This book took me by surprise and I enjoyed it immensely. I realized as I read it, a lot of girls in YA novels claim to be shy, or call themselves shy in their internal monlogue, but very few actually present themselves as actually shy on the page.
Vicky, the MC in this book is definitely shy. Just being around people is enough to make her anxious. She's always managed her shyness and social anxiety by hiding behind her friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky has nothing left to hide behind.
Vicky's mother worries about her shyness and how much time she's alone. Partly to ease her mother's fears, and partly to show Jenna that she can have a life without her, Vicky starts Photoshopping herself into other people's pictures and posting them on Instagram.
It doesn't take long for Vicky's posts, under the name Vicurious, to go viral. And as more people follow the imaginary life Vicky has created from the safety and security of her bedroom, the more Vicky realizes she's not alone in feeling isolated and afraid.
Unlike most books about social media, this one doesn't vilify it. Vicky's online presence is shown to be a good thing, and as she learns more about her followers, Vicky reaches out and encourages those followers to help one another. In this case, the faceless mass is mobilized to do good, not evil, and brings about positive change not just for Vicky, but to many others. While she starts the account for herself, and maybe a little for Jenna, Vicky ends up creating a community.
It also shows how using this medium empowers Vicky. Only through hiding behind an avatar does Vicky learn about her own strengths and discover she does have something to offer the world. And maybe even the cute guy who passes notes to her in history class...
This is a thoroughly contemporary story and it has some really important things to say about social media when it truly is used as a tool for connecting people. As someone who is increasingly frustrated and bored by social media, this book gave a refreshing perspective. Definitely recommended.
But don't just listen to me... Here's the blurb!
So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her— #alone and #ignored in real life.
To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life.
In this beautiful and illuminating narrative, Sharon Huss Roat shines a light on our love of social media and how sometimes being the person you think you want to be isn’t as great as being the person you truly are.