Toes the Line Between Unlikable and Endearing | Review: Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

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Love at First Like is all about living in a social media world. And how easy it is to slip under the waves of the "perfect" life.


About

Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.

Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life.



Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein
Rating: ★★★★☆

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

OH, GOSH. This was 100% not what I expected and honestly I'm not sure how I feel about that? I keep going back and forth with my rating. Somethings about Love at First Like annoyed me and made me cringe. BUT, I was never infuriated by it? In-fact, it made it oddly endearing to me. I was infatuated by the entire novel. Moreso than I expected? I'm trying to decide: was Love at First Like a three star read? A four? A five? A NEGATIVE ZERO? A six-hundred and forty-seven? We just don't know.

Incidentally, you get the impression that our leading lady just doesn't know what she's getting herself into with all the lies and choices and games she plays. We'll get to that in more detail in a minute--I want to focus on Eliza; our main character is flawed. Capitol F. She is messy. She can be unlikable at times. She won't be everyone's cup of tea and neither will Love at First Like for that reason alone.

You know those characters that make you want to run and hide from these moments of secondhand embarrassment? The very ones you want to reach out and shake some sense into? You just sit there, eyes glued to the pages, thinking, " ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Stop that! Oh no, baby, what is you doing? " You catch yourself forgetting that the character isn't real. That you can't send them your advice. That their story is written in ink and placed before you, but you aren't actually a part of it.

Well, that's kind of how I felt about Eliza's story in general. I was like. Girl. No. Please. STOP. You are a mess! But then I was also like, okay, get a happily ever after, darling girl. So, when I say I have a lot of greatly tangled conflicted emotions about Love at First Like I mean that sincerely and I think that says enough about Hannah Morenstein's ability to tell a story. Any author who can get so many emotions churned out of her readers should be applauded. End comment.

Look, as someone who has quite literally grown up in the digital age and seen many forms of social media come and go, I felt firmly attached to the use of it in this novel. Orenstein captures what it's like to live online, and offline, in a way that is realistic and not terribly pretty. She does so with a hint of honesty and a lot of humor, which I can appreciate. Something about this novel felt like one of those cringy rom-coms we all secretly enjoy--we've even got a fake engagement plotline, with a twist.

Eliza has this tendency to take things too far. We see it all the time with social media: what others do for clout, for their followers. Hashtag for the 'gram. I'm not necessarily the type of person to scoff at this type of behavior, so a lot of this just added an extra layer to the plot and brought her flaws to the forefront. Social media can bring out many sides of us and Love at First Like has this message strong and in bold print. Which I can get into. Eliza is very much so that type of aspiring influencer who can be frustrating and strives for the perfect online life and appearance.

As for central story arches go, I feel like there are many good things to be said about Love at First Like. Like its heroine, the story can be flawed and a little overwhelming. I rather liked it that way and found myself completely enamored by it, despite of these things. Love at First Like can be cheesy and embarrassing, fluttery sweet, humourous and steamy; which, in the end, made it much more successful for me.

I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by Orenstein in the future. In short? I found Love at First Like to be highly enjoyable, indulgent and one of the most fun reads of the year, but it won't be for everyone.

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