People Like Her is an incredibly suspenseful novel that explores the power of Instagram, integrity and causal action. Life as a mummy influencer is all glitz & glam—or rather, intentionally not—for Emmy Jackson. She is seen as a beacon of motherhood by millions online; her advice, relatable posts, and reliable responses are the highlights to many mothers #greydays but there is one person who wants nothing more than to see Emmy suffer.
I must applaud the work of the husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos who go by the pseudonym Ellery Lloyd because they created a completely addictive novel packed full of great points of suspense and the characters are so perfectly fleshed out that I KNEW the annoyance I felt for them simply MUST be the overarching feeling of all readers.
Emmy Jackson is one of the most deplorable characters I’ve read in a while (and yes, I have read books about cannibalism, incest, and murder recently, thank you for remembering). This whole entire book I just wanted to openly scowl at her. As I said, I think Lloyd did a perfect job here because it is quite a skill to be able to create such an easily imagined character. I promise I’m not being sarcastic here, I really do commend the authors. Emmy Jackson was such a phoney fraud I almost could not blame someone for wanting to bring her great harm (okay hear me the HELL out). Emmy Jackson is an influencer on a grand scale in the “mamasphere.” Yes, welcome, another episode of me speaking to something I have absolutely no experience or interest about, but let’s just talk this through. People Like Her gives us a unique perspective on the life of an influencer. We are seeing it from the inside. We all know Instagram isn’t real. We all try to make ourselves look better, like we are having more fun, like we are more superior for having a cuter aesthetic than someone else. We are all familiar with this, let’s continue. Our main character Emmy, uniquely does the opposite. She makes her life look worse; harder, messier, less enjoyable—she is playing to the vulnerability of her audience to elevate herself. For me, this left a bad taste in my mouth which is something out of the ordinary. I’m the first reader to try and sympathize with a misunderstood character, but Emmy Jackson is not that person. Either I’m too harsh a critic or the authors did this purposefully.
It is absolutely no secret that Instagram is an extremely powerful platform and tool in a plethora of ways. I’d bet money on the fact that you are reading this review as a result of seeing me shamelessly promoting myself on my Instagram OR you found the fabulous Instagram page for The Book Slut or any of our other lovely writers many moons ago and have loyally stuck around to read this review. We thank you. Not only is Instagram a content sharing platform but it’s a business hub. These facts and the way that “influence” AKA money and business is moving away from movie stars to internet stars is ripe within People Like Her. The way Lloyd has honed in on the potential dark reality of the internet and what willingly exposing yourself (and your young children) to everyone and anyone can really mean. However I must note that, in some points of the novel we see wholesome moments of the “power” of the internet being explored and the way a community is formed within followers. While things can be dark and sinister, they aren’t always as such and I think it is important to also see Instagram and “influencer” life in a positive framework. However, I’m still mad at Emmy so let’s push on with the dark stuff.
Instagram is a vessel by which you can create yourself anew. It is easy to mislead and misdirect your audience. Lloyd explores the cause and effect of this in the most sinister way but who is to say it isn’t within the realm of possibility? Isn’t that how Kim Kardashian’s diamond or whatever got stolen? What rules of engagement are upheld when it comes to how we exist online? Are there any? Maybe yes, as in moral and ethical rules that exist in every realm of life, but online there is no barrier that cages a person into being a certain type of person. I think an insta-mum and someone with a plot to harm her is a generous way to explore the sinister side of Instagram. Is it okay for Emmy to lie to a million people for the sake of money, greed, and a frivolous life? I would say NO it is not categorically okay but is it smart? Perhaps, if you measure success in followers, money and free stuff. It is repeatedly mentioned that Emmy would not have, could not have, reached the level of success she has without her child and her defining feature as a mother. Again, I don’t want to delve too deeply into a topic I know nothing about, but can one consider it ethical to use your children as a tool to achieve this multi-million follower allowing life? I don’t have all the answers to these questions—while I do have my opinions—but I refuse to believe these details and this influencer archetype was the focal point of the novel just by accident.
Lloyd gave me a lot to think about in the way of Instagram and influencers, something I never would have expected from a commercial-looking thriller. People Like Her delves into bigger questions about life on the internet and what it really represents, packaged nicely in a completely entertaining thriller. I have aimed to remain vague about the thriller aspect of the novel because it was completely riveting to me every step of the way so I would not want to take that experience away from another reader. On a final note I must say, I enjoyed People Like Her more than I anticipated. I didn’t expect it to give me more than an exciting and easy read. I knew it would shock and entertain me, but it did more than that. Ellery Lloyd’s novel forces the reader to think about the logistics of their favourite influencers, so next time you see your favourite Instagrammer in a perfectly framed little square just think—there is always more than meets the camera eye with people like her.
People Like Her
By Ellery Lloyd
318 pages. 2021.