Book Review: How to be Perfect by Holly Wainwright

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A (very) brief plot overview

Elle is back, now a ‘guru’ selling the idea of a pure, wholesome life (that will set you back a few hundred dollars a time), Abi is getting married and trying to regain control of her life after the fallout of the infamous blog awards and Frances, a new mum, is desperate to be the mum Elle tells her she needs to be.

What’s good about it?

Having read and loved the first book in this series, The Mummy Bloggers, I decided to grab the second one and see what happened next. I wasn’t disappointed! The book followed the same set up as the first – two of the same main characters, a split narrative where all three women were given a voice, talk of the effect of social media on reality. If you enjoyed the first then there is no reason for you not to love the second just as much, if not more.

For me, I think I preferred this book simply for the character of Frances. I loved how Holly Wainwright explores the idea of the ‘normal’ person seeing lifestyles on Instagram and wanting them, even when they can’t afford it. As a new mum, Frances was vulnerable and Elle’s website preyed on that, telling her that her baby deserved the best version of her and other guilt inducing sentiments that caused Frances to secretly max out a credit card to buy the products Elle was pushing. A lot of the time, we believe what we see on Instagram is real and that the influencers we admire have our interests at heart, but Wainwright lifts that mask and points out that for some people Instagram is their livelihood. We need reminding that every collaboration or product endorsement is us being shown an advertisement from a business or a service and not a person offering a recommendation that they think we might like. I feel like this distinction is one that needs pointing out and I love that Wainwright wrote about it.

I know that people would look at the pastel cover of this book and dismiss it as chick lit, but for me I think there is so much more to it than that. I think that Holly Wainwright’s series of books really do highlight issues with social media, the idea of celebrity and of comparing our lives to others. They hold a mirror up to the world and show that even with the glossiest of filters it isn’t always pretty. I personally love that. In a world where the maximum likes and your follower count is what matters, Holly Wainwright keeps it real.

What’s not so good?

I know you’re supposed to feel sympathy for Elle but I always struggle to. Following the end of the last book when she quite literally tore her family apart and lied about cancer and death, she was back to her scheming, manipulative ways a few days later in order to trap the next man. Whilst her relationship in this book was toxic and I wanted her to get out of it, it’s hard not to read it as ‘will she ever learn to just stop scheming?!’ Her ruthless, calculated streak makes her a great fictional character, but this is the second time I have closed the book and though ‘oh no, what will she do next?’

Hopefully Holly Wainwright writes another book so I can find out…

Rate me: 9/10. Just like The Mummy Bloggers, this book is a really enjoyable read.

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