Mari is a social media star who appears to have it all – perfect body, perfect home and perfect life. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, Mari is more aware than ever of the thing that is missing. Her cousin Bri, who should also have been turning eighteen.
Mari shares her true feelings online – that she isn’t the flawless person she pretends to be. In the backlash, she set outs to follow the adventure Bri had planned before her death.
Mari hikes the John Muir trail and navigates her own feelings as she sets a new course for life.Review:
A contemporary YA for a contemporary audience. I’m always up for books which promote an outdoor lifestyle and this one had such positive messages and a great vibe.
The online world can get a bit OTT. Mari’s certainly has. She plans her photos down to the smallest detail. It’s nothing to do with real life and everything to do with getting likes. Which isn’t the wrong way to live, btw, and the book doesn’t condemn social media altogether. Mari’s built a platform and gained useful skills along the way. She’s just fed up of the constant pressure. When she lets the mask slip and shows her more vulnerable side, she’s condemned for it. There is a huge pressure to create and stick to an image, particularly on Instagram which is Mari’s main platform and the story explores the effect this has on users like Mari.
I’ve seen reviews which describe Mari as shallow and selfish, but my reading was that she sunk herself deeper into this artificial world following the death of her cousin. There is pressure in the real world as well as in the virtual one. When we lose a loved one there can be huge pressure to keep up the pretence of doing fine. Social media is an obvious place to do this, where every picture and every post can be curated.
I enjoyed the trek itself, particularly the descriptions of the landscape. It’s the sort of book which makes you want to train up and get outside even if, like Mari, you have very little experience of the wilderness.
A relatable contemporary novel which encourages us to choose what matters in life while highlighting the pressures social media puts on today’s teenagers.
Thanks to Harper360 for my ARC of The Other Side Of Lost. Opinions my own.