Monday, August 11, 2014

Can't Look Away (review)

4/5 stars

Can't Look Away (Goodreads | Amazon) is a unique picture of grief, the story of a well-known beauty vlogger whose sister is killed by a drunk driver and how she deals with her family, the trolls and her loss. Maybe what I like most about this book is that Torrey Grey is such an imperfect character.  She's shallow, concerned with looks, re-gaining her popularity in a new town, clothes and what everyone thinks about her.  For much of this book Torrey is fake to almost everyone around her.

To me, that feels real.  Torrey is trying to be something she's not anymore, to keep up appearances and to control the aspects of her life she knows how.  It's easier to deal with climbing the social ladder than face her sister's death and her guilt over the circumstances surrounding it. And Torrey is riddled with guilt, even if she hides it from the world, because she had dragged her sister to the mall that day and they had been arguing when the drunk driver came down the street.

The grief in this book feels real.  It's not textbook and pretty, but a whole family of people facing it in different ways and royally screwing up at every turn because grieving is really hard.  Dealing with grief, loss and guilt brings out both the worst and best in people.

Another thing this book does well is capture the YouTube audience.  I once dabbled in vlogging and have quite a few trolls of my own.  The reactions of the trolls and Torrey both seem completely realistic based on my experience with the internet.

This book does a lot of things right, deals with grief authentically, creatures a popularity-obsessed teenager (rather than the "different" trope that's common) who is developed and complex and even managed to have quite a few funny and cute moments to keep the book from feeling too heavy.  For a book about grief in the age of the internet, the tone was perfect and the book well-worth reading.

I received an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

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