Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Review: Socially Awkward by Stephanie Haddad

Goodreads says:

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Did you ever try? Jennifer Smith spends most of her time wishing she had a more exciting name, lived a more exciting life, or that she could just become someone else for a while. With her sister Claire's help, Jennifer channels her life's desires into the perfect graduate research program: a fake Facebook identity that allows her to "study" the world's reaction to perceived beauty. Making up a new name, designing a new personality, and doctoring a photo or two seems like the perfect plan; how could it possibly backfire? Especially if it helps her get the attention of a long-time school crush... Lost in her new-found "popularity" as Olivia Saunders, Jennifer's real life starts to slip out of her grasp piece by piece. Before long, she finds herself caught in a love square--where one of the four corners is an imaginary person. While Olivia's life has all the glitz, glamour, and guys she could ever have wanted, Jennifer has to decide if she can walk away and learn how to be okay living life as herself.

I discovered Socially Awkward by Stephanie Haddad on Amazon one day.  I read the description and thought that it would be an interesting story. I decided to take a chance since it was a freebie.  And this story is interesting.

As I started reading reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I began to have second thoughts.  People were saying how horrible this novel was.  One person even compared it to an after school special. I am 31 years  old, I believe that I missed ABC's after school specials by a few years. So I headed over to  You Tube to watch a few.

In my personal opinion the novel was not that bad. I continued to read to find out what happens to Jen and everyone involved. I think that Jen went overboard and got too involved with her project.  The plot sounds like something that would be on MTV's Catfish.  At least Jen had her profile picture photo shopped instead of stealing someone's photo from Myspace.  The novel makes a few valid points.

  • It paints  a very real and vivid picture of how so many people allow social media to take over their every day lives.
  • It speaks very truthfully about how a lot of girls feel about themselves. That they have to be somebody they aren't for someone to want to be with them instead of finding the one who accepts them for who they are
  • Committing yourself to something will yield results. Excuses will get you nowhere. 
It was interesting how Sean accepted Olivia's friend request simply because he thought he recognized her from school.  I remember when I first signed up for Facebook back in 2009, I received a friend request from a girl I went to school with.  I didn't accept because this girl never talked to me and made fun of me back in middle school. Sure, I had classes with her.  But I didn't see the point in following each other on Facebook.  I agree that so many are absorbed with social media these days.  They have to broadcast all their where abouts -where they are hanging out, when they are going out of town,  the fact that they are at a Luke Bryan concert, etc. 

It is sad that so many girls believe that they have to be someone they are not in order to be accepted. When Jen poses as Olivia online, she received more attention.  I thought that it was also interesting that the author gave Jen a physical challenge.  Jen is hearing impaired and has to wear hearing aids.  Jen feels self conscious about them and hides them with hair.  I can understand where she is coming from because of my vision impairment.  I can't go without my glasses, but I feel self conscious about carrying around my white cane.  I appreciated the fact that Haddad didn't dwell on Jen's impairment and didn't make this a pity party story.  It rare to find stories featuring physically challenged individuals.  Usually when we read or watch these stories (movies and TV shows) they are held as a hero or someone famous.  Mostly, we hear about famous people.

Jen has another issue to deal with and that is her weight.  Her doctor tells her that she needs to loose 30 pounds.  I think that Jen becomes committed to this task because of the push from her sister Claire and the research project.  Because Jen is committed to getting healthier, she begins to feel better about herself.  

Socially Awkward wasn't as bad as reviews made it seem.  I think that readers can learn a lot from this novel if they looked deeper into the plot. 

3 out of 5 stars
Personal digital copy from Amazon.  

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