• West Cork Literary Festival 2021

Unfiltered by Sophie White

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Women’s Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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Unfiltered by Sophie White is published with Hachette Ireland and is described as ‘hilarious’, with the Irish Independent stating that Sophie White is ‘hyper current…hugely relevant’. Unfiltered picks up from Sophie White’s debut, Filter This, continuing the story of wannabe influencer, Ali Jones and Irish Queen of the Influencers, Shelly Devine.

O.M.G. it must be SOOOO exhausting being ‘on’ all the time. In the selfie world of ‘The Influencer’ the pressure to be perfect, to be living your best life is a very scary prospect. It is back into this chaotic world that we return, as Sophie White reacquaints us all with the lives of Ali and Shelly. In Filter This Ali was going through some challenging times and, with her life in flux, she took some decisions that didn’t quite work out as she had hoped for. In Unfiltered their lives have changed dramatically, now that Ali is REALLY pregnant and Shelly’s husband, Dan, now lives in the Seomra down the end of their back-garden.

Ali’s father passed away at the same time the Insta world discovered her fake pregnancy was….well…fake! Immediately putting her Insta on private, Ali knows that the keyboard warriors, the trolls, will be out for her blood, to call her out, shame her and to ultimately take her down. Not coping too well with the death of her Dad, and then the dramatic discovery that she REALLY is pregnant has placed Ali in a very vulnerable position. Sam, her boyfriend was horrified to hear that the first pregnancy was fake but when he hears that Ali is now actually carrying his child he is literally gobsmacked. Sam is a nice guy. He really loved Ali but her transformation on social media, as her numbers grew, was like car crash TV. At this point Sam has now all but given up on them having any future together. But Ali is not giving up. Riddled with guilt following the death of her father Ali makes a decision, one she hopes will help her cope somewhat with the confused feelings she has

“I didn’t set out to do this but it’s happening, and I feel like it’s happening for a reason. This baby is my chance to make amends for how….for how I was with Dad. I’m going to take care of this baby. I’m going to be there for this baby the way I wasn’t for him”

But Ali has one major problem. With her Insta on private she has no income stream. With the help of Amy O’ Donoghue, social media guru and all around PR whizz, they set about re-introducing Ali to the world again, but with a difference. Ali will be herself and she will limit her posts. She signs up for rehab with Catfishers Anon, a group that are there to help people like Ali, people who are addicted to the buzz and the insanity of this online world. The results are not quite as Ali had anticipated….

Meanwhile Shelly Devine is seriously rethinking her future as an influencer. Her marriage is in bits, her perfect image is crumbling. She is on her second pregnancy and she discovers she has a stalker. Initially she disregards the seriousness of the situation but, as the days pass, Shelly begins to fear for her life and that of her little girl, Georgia.

We follow Ali and Shelly’s journeys as they begin to realise that the glamour and the influencer status is not all as they had planned. Making new decisions and changing some of their ways could possibly be the beginning of something new, a possible existence beyond the ‘gram.

Sophie White has captured something very relevant with these books. Although very witty throughout, there is an underlying truth and pertinence about the way we live our lives today. We are all guilty of being distracted from the moment by our need to check our feed many times a day, hour, minute. Many of us drool at the lifestyles we see online, the perfection that we can never recreate in our own lives. But what is behind the veneer? What is behind the filter? In Unfiltered, we get a great insight into the tricks of the trade and we see how challenging life on a pedestal can be. Ali and Sophie both had great successes on the ‘gram, with the money attached to this success causing them to lose sight of what is really important in their lives. There is a moral behind these books.

Unfiltered has some really hilarious scenes and I did nearly choke on my coffee one day on reading about a specific scene in The Abbey Theatre. Sophie White has great comic timing, creating a brilliant visual through her writing. These books are very much a satirical portrayal of society today, a parody of our strive to emulate perfection, based on what we think of as real. The hashtag has become such an important symbol in all our lives today, but for the influencer it is especially so. It is these seemingly innocuous symbols that help the cash to flow, the sponsorship to increase.

Unfiltered is an extremely topical, relevant book. With a lightness and a captivating charm, Sophie White takes us on a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of the social media influencer. With wonderful dialogue and Ali’s trademark sense of humour, Unfiltered is a very funny, heart-warming tale written with a sharp eye and a very entertaining style. Perfect sunshine reading!

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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