Author: Lisa Unger
Series: Hush Collection #6
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
First Published: July 30, 2020
Source: Prime Reading
A writer’s misguided suspicions ruined his life once before. This time he plans to prove he’s right in a New York Times bestselling author’s haunting short story of what happens when seeing is not believing.
Will, an aspiring novelist, can’t stop parsing his ex-girlfriend’s popular social media accounts for clues that her ideal new rural life with the perfect man has a dark side. After all, nobody he knows has actually seen the blissful blogger in the flesh for nearly a year. When Will draws a wary friend into his “investigation,” the real question becomes who’s truly in danger.Also in this series: Snowflakes, Treasure, Slow Burner
This story had such a good premise and I wish I could have loved it, I honestly truly did. The main character, Will, has been struggling to move on from his girlfriend after a tumultuous relationship that ended in a restraining order. He does all the things he should be doing, going to therapy, controlling his anger, trying to get his life going, but he finds himself stuck. He wishes so badly that he could get closure on their relationship.
“I spend too many hours scrolling through her feeds, reading her words. Time I could spend moving on. Working on my novel. Getting a real job. The days seem to disappear.”
This story does a good job of exploring modern breakups in a world that has now been connected online through social media. It is so easy to feel tempted to look up an ex’s social media accounts to “see how they’re doing.” It is an unhealthy habit that lets people feel like they still have access to the lives of people they used to know. All we see on social media feeds is how happy people are, we all tend to post our best lives and leave out the ugly parts.
Will starts to wonder if the new life that his ex presents online is truly reality, and starts to worry for her safety. Will is clearly unstable and engaging in stalking behavior, despite telling himself constantly that he needs to respect her boundaries. It is a recipe for disaster honestly but could have made a great thriller. Unfortunately, the direction of the story becomes pretty easy to ascertain and the story veers in another direction, toward romantic suspense.
“Well, we’re all unreliable narrators of our own lives, aren’t we?”
The story does the unthinkable and tells you what plot device had been being used the entire time, and I didn’t find it cute or cheeky. There was so much potential for this story but it never delivers on the premise. The good commentary about the fake veneer of online personalities was not enough to save the red herring it serves for the plot. This is my second attempt at a short with Lisa Unger and I found myself feeling underwhelmed despite her gorgeous writing style. She creates set-ups that are truly interesting and writes engaging narratives, but I always find myself feeling unsatisfied with the ending.
Warnings: relational abuse, attempted suicide