Ever written a witty tweet and wondered why it hasn’t gotten as many likes as you hoped? Ever posted a picture on Instagram and pretended that you didn’t take three hundred photos from eighteen different angles before you found the one that you thought looked half-decent but not like you were trying? Ever put on a falsely chipper tone to write a Facebook status when all you want to do is curl up and pretend the world doesn’t exist? Welcome to life online, welcome to being a millennial, welcome to How Do You Like Me Now?
Many of us have grown up with social media, and when our lives aren’t going the way we want them to, we assert out control by creating perfectly curated identities online. We take pictures of our perfectly frothed cappuccinos in independent coffee shops, of our mouthwatering bottomless brunches, and the inspirational exhibitions we’ve been to see at prestigious art galleries. We take photos of monuments, of sun-kissed beaches, of the new outfits we bought that made us look cute. And then, we put it online. Then we look through our feeds and see all the other people we know having a fantastic time and forget that they’re probably doing exactly the same thing.
For Tori, social media has allowed her to build her brand and connect with her fans. After writing a bestselling memoir, she has thousands and thousands of followers, all buying into her ‘fuck them’ attitude to life. She has the perfect boyfriend, she’s doing TED talks, everything is going her way. Except it isn’t really.
Tori is not always the fearless woman she makes out she is and she’s in denial. No matter how close the deadline comes for her new book she can’t think of what to write next. No matter how much she pretends, her relationship with Tom isn’t as amazing as she makes out, in fact, its barely functional. No matter what she tells people she can’t quite shake the feeling that she wants what the insufferable mummies have. When her best friend Dee finds love, Tori is forced to confront the possibility that she’s been living a lie. She has two choices: she can bury her head in the sand or she can become the woman she thought she was.
One thing that really struck me about the novel, was the depiction of Tori and Tom’s toxic relationship. They both want different things from their relationship, but neither can admit it, and that leads to a hostile and passive aggressive dynamic between the two. It’s unsettling to see how Tom throws Tori’s reasonable behaviour back at her, how easy it is for him to make her seem hysterical and needy, and how quick she is to doubt herself. In one particularly disturbing moment, Tom forces her to perform a sex act, and doesn’t even seem to comprehend what is is that he has done or how upset Tori is by his behaviour. Tori brushes it aside and tries to justify Tom’s actions, but by the end of the novel, she realises how unhealthy their relationship is. It highlights how important it is to have conversations about consent inside and outside of relationships.
In contrast, her relationship with Dee is sweet and supportive. Dee comforts her when she is stressed or anxious, but isn’t afraid to tell Tori the truth when she needs to hear it. The changes in Dee’s life make Tori realises she’s taken their relationship for granted, and she’s terrified that it might mean losing her best friend. She has to adjust to the idea that other people need Dee too. The change in their friendship isn’t better or worse, it’s just different.
How Do You Like Me Now? is equal parts hilarious and heart-breaking, and expertly narrated by Tuppence Middleton. If you’re looking for a good audiobook to snicker to on the commute, this is the one for you. Although, maybe don’t crank the volume up too loud. I had a couple of wary looks on the Circle line. Or do, I’m sure Tori would.