I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
on July 11th 2017
(256 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
From Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly), “winning” (Publishers Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—comes a new novel about the secrets we keep…even from ourselves.
Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.
Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.
And then she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.
Initial Excitement & Summary
First of all, I have to note how weird it is that two books with this title were released this year… and I read them both! One is YA and one is adult, but still. They also, oddly enough, involve “fame” in one way or another. I was really excited for this one because Laura Dave is one of those authors I’ve wanted to read for a while. I’ve been on this adult contemporary kick lately and was excited to get to this one.
Sunshine is a famous YouTube chef, essentially, whose world comes crumbling down one day when her lies are revealed. She doesn’t know anything about cooking, she’s not from a small southern farm, and she’s cheated on her husband. The world learns she’s a fraud and she has no choice but to head to her hometown of Montauk, New York.
Storytelling & Characters
I love the Hamptons as a book setting so much. There’s something so special about northeast / east coast beaches for me. I can’t imagine growing up there and then desperately wanting to leave, like Sunshine did. The story itself has somewhat of a redemption arc, with Sunshine going home and having to make up for lost time with her remaining family. She has to start from scratch in just about every area of her life, especially her career. She picks an interesting path to try to get back into the cooking world, which honestly didn’t make much sense to me. It’s essentially been revealed that you aren’t a real chef, so why would you decide to go back into that world? With a chance to start over, find something else you’re passionate about!
Anyways, it was interesting to see how she tried to move on with her life. Sunshine was somewhat of an unlikable character because of her deception and reaction to it (keep lying). I found myself drawn to her and her story though. I was rooting for her to make a comeback in one way or another, even with a different career path.
Her sister and niece were really interesting characters. I loved Sammy; she was so cute and smart for a 6 year old! I wish their story was a little bigger though? I don’t think there was enough explanation around why Rain decided to stick around, follow their dad’s rules, etc.
I liked the commentary on social media and how people present themselves online. The message of the book wasn’t heavy-handed at all, which I appreciated. It had to do with authenticity in a world where everyone can share whatever they want on the internet.
Negatives & Ending Feels
I have a few issues with the book overall, but nothing major! I mentioned a few things above. The ending wasn’t my favorite. I appreciated the way the last few chapters were narrated and how Sunshine closed out her story for the reader (aka how Dave wrote it)… but I don’t know how I feel about how it wrapped up. I don’t want to spoil much, but mild spoiler – it was sort of open-ended in some ways. Part of me thinks that makes a lot of sense, because hopefully Sunshine continues to grow after the story ends and there really isn’t a set ending to it. BUT as a reader, I wish there was a little more wrapping up for a few things. View Spoiler »
This was a nice, light, quick read, with a beachy setting! I wouldn’t consider it fluffy because Sunshine deals with some more serious ~life-altering events~ and essentially an existential crisis. If you’re looking for a LITTLE heavier of a beach read that’s set in the Hamptons, definitely give this one a try.
Thoughts in a Gif
|Plot & Premise
|Pacing & Flow
|Feels or Swoons