Happy Tuesday, guys!
Today, I'm reviewing The Status of All Things, by writing duo Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.
In this fun, but thoughtful book, Liz and Lisa ask readers to consider just what we would do, if we had the ability to rewrite our lives with each status update on Facebook.
It's a inquisitive look at how we choose to present ourselves on social media, and whether having the ability to manipulate your life to every whim in real life, really adds up to a better life.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Washington Square Press
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
It's a smart, thoughtful examination at how the lengths that we go to when presenting a certain facade on social media, and whether life would be perfect, if those facades could translate into real life.
Kate's two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.
In The Status of All Things, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke combine the humor and heart of Sarah Pekkanen and Jennifer Weiner while exploring the pitfalls of posting your entire life on the Internet. They raise the questions: What if you could create your picture-perfect life? Would you be happy? Would you still be you? For anyone who’s ever attempted—or failed—to be their perfect self online, this is a story of wisdom and wit that will leave you with new appreciation for the true status of your life.
In The Status of All Things, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke explores just what would happen if someone was granted that power. Karen's a thirty-five year old who is consumed with social media. But when her fiancé breaks things off with her at their rehearsal dinner, there's no status update or tweet that could possibly fix the situation.
But when Karen is granted the power to fix her life via Facebook status updates, she decides to go back in time and try to save her relationship. However, she quickly learns that even if she can make things start off perfect, they don't always end up staying that way...
While I'm sure that some of you are thinking "...a book about Facebook updates?" right now, trust me - this book is so much more than that. From the second that we're introduced to Karen, Fenton and Steinke begin to subtly explore just what it means to have to live within a technologically-driven world.
Because of how information is disseminated across social media, there's an underlying emphasis on keeping up with the digital Jones', something that Karen obviously struggles with whenever she posts an update. Readers can't help but empathize and sympathize with her inherent need to make each post perfect; especially as we see her struggling to take a perfect picture in the initial chapters of the book. Through Karen, Fenton and Steinke ask us just why we feel this type of pressure, and whether it's possible that all those we see with so-called perfect lives on Facebook and Twitter, struggle with the same things.
Once Karen gains her ability to use Facebook status updates to go back in time and alter her life, Fenton and Steinke move on to the bigger question of whether mainpulating your life to be perfect will actually make it that way. Though there's an initial joy in watching Karen retroactively (or proactively, in this case!) best the woman who initially stole her fiancé, and also create perfect lives for herself, and best friends Liam and Jules,
But as Karen begins to struggle with realizing that her updates don't always have the perfect results - e.g. best friend Liam changes beyond recognition - Fenton and Steinke tactfully point out that even if a life may appear perfect on the outside, there are always struggles behind the curtain.
Celebrity relationships are not ideal, nor are perfect makeovers the key to absolute happiness. By striving to manipulate a life until it's perfect, Fenton and Steinke also asks readers to consider just what they might be losing in the interim. Are there growing experiences, friendships - or in Karen's case - a romance, which might be lost?
It's fodder for thought, especially as Karen sees her attempts to use her Facebook status updates to improve her life, ebb and flow, and things continue to go down the same path as before. There's an inevitability to some key relationships, and it's up to Karen to determine just what she wants to do next. Is it worth continuing to try to force perfection, or is it better to learn from obstacles and become better?
Ultimately, while The Status of All Things begins life as a novel about social media and Facebook, it concludes as a thoughtful look at how we choose to define ourselves, and the importance of struggling through obstacles and challenges, to truly learn who we're meant to be.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
My one minor quibble with the book - and believe me, this is strictly a personal preference - is that the ending of The Status of All Things felt a tad too predictable.
While Fenton and Steinke's ending did solidly wrap things up for all of the main characters, I did also feel like I could see the ending coming from a mile away. However, I will concede that there's pretty much no other way that the novel could have ended, so I really think it's just a question of personal choice.
Would you truly be happier if you shape your life - one status at a time - into exactly what you want it to be? Or is there an inherent value and a worth for every struggle and obstacle that are endured, because it makes a person stronger and more capable in the end? Fenton and Steinke's thoughtful, warm-hearted exploration of these ideas is one of the reasons why The Status of All Things is officially one of my favorite fiction books of the summer.
Highly recommend this book for all readers, full stop. This book will absolutely delight and move you.