Autumn likes to like stuff on the Internet (who doesn’t?)…and she soon becomes obsessed with one particular family–the McMullins. She likes them for several reasons: 1. Daphne McMullin is the perfect mother. 2. The McMullins in general, are the perfect family and 3. Daphne McMullin adopted Autumn’s baby girl at birth in a closed adoption. Autumn “stays in” her daughter’s life by following Daphne on social media as a lurker. She memorizes everything about them and is just absolutely thrilled that a woman like Daphne could be the most perfect mother for her adorable baby girl Grace. To get even closer to the family, Autumn needs to become the perfect woman for just the right guy. Stalking the right profiles and studying previous girlfriends, Autumn finds the perfect guy–whose best quality is…that his yard backs up to the McMullins. (I think said perfect about 80 times, I blame cold meds).
But as we all know, things that we see on the Internet are fabricated and even people who document their “lives” on social media don’t tend to show warts and all. In fact, Daphne knows that her high school sweetheart/heartthrob/provider husband has been stepping out on her. She fears that this isn’t just an indiscretion but that he loves this other woman. Daphne does all that she can to have the perfect life, the perfect home, the perfect children . Infuriatingly enough, her family is not cooperating with her. Her daughter Grace acts up and cuts the other daughter’s hair, her son makes messes, and her husband doesn’t seem to appreciate all she does. So what does Daphne do? Well aside from carefully curating the perfect life online and capturing it in photos she makes friends with a pretty hot drug dealer and hires a nanny so that she can spend her Tuesdays smoking pot at his house and getting schooled about her anxiety and repressions. I can kind of get behind all of that because her husband is a dick of epic proportions but then Daphne turns out to be…well, I can’t even describe her level of whatever she is.
Autumn and Daphne’s lives cross when Autumn gets hired to be the summer nanny for the McMullin family. Autumn is ecstatic to be able to be with “her” daughter and spend time with the family that she’s loved from afar for so long. However, as she spends more time within the house she sees that the seams are bursting and the family that has looked so perfect from the outside is no different than any other…in fact, it may be worse, in the ways that they’re hiding the decay. How will Autumn deal with this information? What is Daphne going to do about her husband and his other woman? Can Autumn keep the persona that she’s been playing for her boyfriend going? What’s Daphne going to do with the sexy philosophical drug dealer (hint: sexy stuff)! Also there’s a murder but I’m not telling you who dies…but someone totally does AND it’s satisfying like when Peyton dies in The Hand the Rocks the Cradle (fun fact, I thought people were crazy because they were cheering when she died in the movie theater…I was like in 5th grade and didn’t understand their bloodlust–now I get it because if someone slept with my husband, tried to steal my baby OR mess with my inhalers, I would more than a little angry).
This was the Lifetime-yist book I have ever read and I loved the shit out of it (or early ’90’s thrillers like The Hand that Rocked the Cradle). It’s not a great book in terms of plot but the writing keeps you coming back. It could’ve really made a commentary about social media and perceptions…but it decided to go down all kinds of other routes and I COMMEND the author for that. I’m a big lover of B-movies and this is a B-movie book–it’s full of fun little twists that you can see coming from a mile away but they still feel pretty fun when they happen. The end unravels way too quickly, especially with all the set up but if you want to read something that is pretty nutty and you don’t want to think…read this book. I mean that in the best possible way.