Pub. Date: July 11, 2017
Source: ARC + finished hardcover via publisher (Thank you, Simon & Schuster!)
Summary: Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness—Sunshine seems to have it all. But she’s hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine.
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Sunshine Mackenzie has it all. She and her architect husband have a gorgeous apartment in one of the most coveted areas of New York. After her YouTube cooking series became a runaway hit, publishing deals poured in – all three have become bestsellers – and she even has a Food Network contract in the works! Unfortunately for Sunshine, someone on twitter isn’t a fan and begins hacking her account, intent on telling the truth behind everyone’s favorite internet chef.
Initially the reveals aren’t all that damaging in the grand scheme of things. Okay, so maybe announcing to the world that Sunny’s producer’s wife was the true creator of the recipes Sunny touted on her show and in her cookbooks wasn’t the best move for her career. And, alright, dissecting her past (a farmer’s daughter Sunshine is not) might not win Sunny any fans, but what celebrity hasn’t blurred the lines before? Perhaps let on they were five years younger or that their big break was a little more exciting that what really happened. What sealed Sunny’s fate was a leaked photo…a photo that included her producer. Kicked out of her apartment (right after learning both the Food Network contract and her upcoming book deal are both instantly nixed), Sunshine heads for the one place she vowed never to return: her childhood home.
Hello, Sunshine is a pint-sized novel clocking in at under 250 pages and Dave wastes no time getting straight to the action: in the first few pages Sunshine lets the reader in on how her troubles began and how she watched her life crumble. From there the story isn’t so much about discovering who was behind the hack (though it’s revealing later on) as it is about Sunny coming to terms with her actions and how she plans on redeeming herself.
I loved that Sunshine got her start on YouTube. That detail made the book feel really timely and current, though I wonder if it’ll feel dated in five, ten years. There’s a rival vlogger whose specialty is toast and I thought that was not only hilarious but totally spot-on. What can I say, toast is trendy!
A constant theme in Hello, Sunshine is real life vs the image we portray online. I actually didn’t have a problem with Sunshine’s made-up backstory – made-up persona, but it felt as though every other character had a huge issue with it. On the one hand, I could understand where Sunny’s sister and her husband were coming from: it made her husband feel like he was living a big lie (lest he slip up and mention to someone about how they really met) and her sister feel like she wasn’t good enough, that Sunny got to live out her dreams and suddenly their family, their home, just didn’t cut it. On the other, who hasn’t taken 10 selfies and pick the best, only to pass it off as a spontaneous moment? If you follow me on instagram, you’d be under the impression that my pups are perfect angels. Like I’m actually going to post photos of the two of them going at it as they make a mess and argue over a toy (despite the house being FULL of other toys!) I know lots of bloggers I follow don’t post photos of messy houses or crying babies. I don’t consider this to be lying and felt like Sunny was being vilified for something we all do. Maybe it’s different for me because I’m not famous and don’t have my own television show?
Another thing I appreciated about Hello, Sunshine was the lack of romance. I thought for sure that’s where the book was headed after Sunny splits from her husband and there just happens to be a good-looking fisherman in town and was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t!
While I feel the ending was a little too sitcom-y and neat, I have to say I enjoyed this one – and I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan of Dave’s Eight Hundred Grapes so I was initially hesitant to read Hello, Sunshine. I’m so glad I did though. I love a good fall from grace story and that, combined with the great cast of characters, no romance, and the quick, easy pace (AND super short length) made Hello, Sunshine a fantastic lazy afternoon read and I’m positive it will find its way into many beach bags this summer!