Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: Hello, Sunshine

Summary: From Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly), “winning” (Publishers Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—comes a new novel about the secrets we keep…even from ourselves.

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age. -- Simon & Schuster

I'm a big fan of author Laura Dave, so I was extremely excited that her latest novel HELLO, SUNSHINE arrived in my mailbox prior to my beach vacation. This novel about the fall from grace of a celebrity chef sounded like an ideal summer read... and it was the first book I picked out of my large stack to read by the waves!

HELLO, SUNSHINE tells the story of Sunshine Mackenzie, a woman who seemingly has it all. She's a celebrity chef with a huge social media following, and she has a terrific husband who wholeheartedly supports her and her career. She's even has her own television show. However, when she discovers that she's been hacked, all her dirty secrets are revealed!

Sunshine's perfect life suddenly isn't so perfect. Her husband leaves her, she loses her television show, and her fans turn on her. She doesn't seem to have any options except to return to her childhood home where her estranged sister and niece have been living. It's only when Sunshine hits rock bottom that she can clearly see the truth about herself and what she wants out of life.

HELLO, SUNSHINE was a fantastic beach book! It was an extremely fun read, kind of like chick lit for grownups; however, it also touched upon some very serious and relevant issues in today's society. In fact, I picked up the novel hoping to be entertained with a woman's fall and eventual redemption, and I definitely was... but I also thoroughly appreciated how thought-provoking this novel was when it came to social media and honesty. And that's probably what I liked the most about HELLO, SUNSHINE. It was an insightful look at how we portray ourselves in this age of social media.

Sunshine was an extremely interesting character. I will admit that I didn't always like her very much, but I did like what she represented. She was a complex character who definitely symbolized what can go wrong when you start telling others (and yourself!) lies about yourself. This novel definitely featured the pitfalls when you start with just one little fib or exaggeration. As most of us realize, one little lie is usually just the beginning... and the coverup ends up requiring quite a few more.

I also enjoyed that Sunshine didn't just feel sorry for herself and give up. Rather, she began forging new relationships (namely with her niece) and trying to fix old ones that had been damaged (like the one with her sister.) In addition, she began a low-level job in the kitchen of a hard-nosed chef and worked her butt off. Even when things seemed pretty dismal for Sunshine, she persevered and tried to make amends for her past. And that's where the redemption aspect of the novel took place, and that's also when I started liking and rooting for Sunshine!

My favorite aspect of HELLO, SUNSHINE, though, was how this novel explored the subject of reality and self-awareness in a world full of social media. Don't get me wrong, I love Twitter and Facebook even though I'm not a huge poster. I enjoy following my friends' lives and seeing pictures and accomplishments of their kids; however, there have always been times that I think it's interesting to see the spin they put on their public lives. In fact, I often wonder if the people with the best posts on Facebook are truly living those perfect lives. This novel definitely explores that and more!

Because of a hacker, Sunshine is forced to confront what she's been posting on all of her social media outlets. Ultimately, that's a really good thing for Sunshine because she realizes how difficult it's been to live the life she's created... not actually experienced. She learns to be authentic and live her life for herself and those she are close to rather than her millions of fans; and in the process, she repairs relationships from her past and begins to love herself.

I think HELLO, SUNSHINE would make an excellent book club selection. I wasn't able to find a reader's guide, but I don't think you'd need one. There are so many topics to discuss from celebrity personas, to dysfunctional families, to love, to honesty, to second chances. You also will definitely want to explore social media and the effects it has on our society, our kids, and even ourselves.

HELLO, SUNSHINE is a fun and thought-provoking read. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Everyone is loving this - I need to get to it soon.

Kate Unger said...

Interesting. I did not care for this one. It's nice to read another perspective. :)

Peaceful Reader said...

I love the title! I will look for this at the library.

The Book Sage said...

I am seeing a bunch of people talking about this book. I appreciate Kate's comment. But it might be something I want to get into my TBR pile.

Elizabeth said...

Nice review.

I liked this book too.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I haven't read this author, but the book sounds very interesting. I'll have to take a look!