‘You’re not nothing. You’re definitely something.’
We stayed hugging for a while until she said, ‘Emma, this is all lovely and everything, but on second thoughts can we hug after you’ve had a shower?’ She moved away.
‘Oh God. Look at me. This happened two months ago and I still feel exactly the same about it. I mean, yes, that status only just came up. But we stopped speaking at the beginning of the summer. In two months, I have made zero progress. How is that possible?’
‘Maybe because instead of actually trying to make progress you keep stewing over how you’ve made no progress.’
(Editing Emma by Chloe Seager. P15.)
Leon changes his Facebook status. After two months of ignoring Emma, Leon has started to date Anna. Emma is forced to admit something is wrong. Was Emma even dumped? Surrounded by Leon’s old Chewit wrappers, and the sticking plaster she rescued from the bin, Emma sits in her pyjamas posting bitter updates on her blog. Leon isn’t worth any girl’s time or virginity. His parents hate him anyway.
When best friend Steph tells Emma to get a grip, Emma decides to take her blog in a new direction. She will transform herself one ‘edit’ at a time, starting with a new boyfriend. If Mum’s serial-dating is anything to go by, there are plenty of willing guys out there. So what if Emma has to lie a bit?
Her transformations result in a life which is less than plain sailing. The internet is the greatest tool of communication in existence. Has Emma got it completely wrong?
A hilarious, heart-breaking read which gives an honest picture of teenage life.
Editing Emma reminded me how painful it is to be a teenager. However bad adult life gets, the only person entitled to an opinion on your private life is you. Emma is constantly monitored: by her mother, her teachers and her peer group. She broadcasts her emotional life to the world, in a way which could be metaphoric of teenage life itself. Not that the exploration of online life is figurative. Chole Seager understands how the internet is a very real presence in modern teenage life. Themes raised include the omnipresence of social judgement, and the decisions we must make about how to use the internet in a positive way. The Frankenstein-thread is a great analogy for this. However ‘modern’ we think we are, people have faced the same issues before. It will make you want to revisit Shelly’s work.
Emma is constantly venting. Although she is a gloomy character, this is lifted by her brutally honest sense of humour, and the way we take her into our hearts. She’s not socially au fait, but this only made me care for her more. Plenty of us have been Emma, and all of us have had an Emma moment – a moment where we make a catastrophically stupid social move, then wonder why the world is being so mean. Emma is fed up of seeing teenage life portrayed on television by glamourous women in their mid-20s. Editing Emma is the brutal – but brutally funny – real thing.
I loved Emma’s friend Steph. She appears to have life sorted when giving Emma advice, but isn’t perfect herself. She is the friend every teenager needs – the one who tells it like it is, while offering high-calorie treats as consolation.
I also like the relationship between Emma and her Mum. Initially, I condemned Mum as a bad role-model. Part way through, I changed my mind. Mum is imperfect, human, but she steps in when the consequence of Emma’s actions spins out of control. Perhaps she hasn’t sorted her own social life, but she’s a great parent.
At times I wondered whether these could really *all* be posts. Wouldn’t Emma’s stone-drunk messages be incoherent? Wouldn’t her phone be confiscated sooner? Taking the idea that it was all posted online with a pinch of salt, it was a great narrative. It was tightly structured. If you know anything about five-act structure, you will understand why Emma’s initial ‘edits’ are doomed to failure.
One for anybody who wants a realistic portrayal of teenage life, or important questions about the way we use the internet.
Released August 10th 2017.
I received my copy from HQ Stories via NetGalley, in return for a review. This does not affect the honesty of my review. HUGE thanks to HQ Stories for my copy.