Monday, May 30, 2011

"With Just One Click..." Is A Quintessential Modern Day Relationship Novel...

Like any television show that is perpetually on the bubble, Amanda Strong ends each chapter in her new novel "With Just One Click..." in a way that could satisfy the end of the book as a whole, creating a sense of stand alone scenes worthy of short film or web series episode adaptations all their own.

"With Just One Click..." follows the lives and stories of three women, each narrating their own chapters, and each of whom are experiencing virtually the same exact relationship issues as they navigate the new online waters, specifically Facebook. Chloe is a single girl living and working in Manhattan who joins the site simply to be a lurker in the lives of her friends but ends up reconnecting with her first love from high school; Morgan is a happily married stay-at-home mother of two who finds herself growing increasingly jealous over her husband's dealings with a flirtatious ex on the social media site; and Brynn is a less happily married stay-at-home mother of two who begins a flirtation of her own on Facebook-- with a man who just happens to be the one that got away when she was in high school. At first it just seems a bit too easy that they would all have such similar stories, and at times it is just as easy to get lost in the narrative, forgetting momentarily which woman's tale you are currently reading until you get to a proper name, but the sameness becomes even more eerie when you learn the familial way in which their stories actually do intersect. This is a fact that doesn't become explicitly clear until the final chapter, and admittedly Made Possible by Pop Culture would have loved to see what it looked like earlier in the story, so a part of the journey could have become about them leaning on each other and learning to deal with the changing technology and changing relationships together.

But perhaps that would have been a completely different story. What is really refreshing about "With Just One Click" is that you can read it traditionally, cover to cover, or you can read just every third chapter (one woman's entire story arc) at once before moving on to the other two. They hold up completely as individual novellas within the larger book, and because Strong's writing is so visual, sculpting a clear picture of each woman and the world in which she lives, they comes across as vignettes, too. If modern communication is all about Facebook statuses and wall posts (i.e. online), then modern story telling should be all about short form web featurettes, too!

At over three-hundred large paperback pages, "With Just One Click..." looks more daunting than it is. Never dense and never dull, it is true light-hearted fare perfect for these coming summer months, whether you're enjoying some down time away from your own kids or relationship or simply looking for something fun to pass around your group of girlfriends or read for book club.

This is not a "how to" guide to online dating or Facebook or anything in between, though Facebook very easily becomes a fourth protagonist-- not the only link that connects these women but arguably the strongest in today's modern world. There are also no deep, cautionary messages to take away from "With Just One Click..." (though the setting seems ripe for a tale of befriending someone who isn't what he (or she!) appears to be, Strong is not that cynical). But if you are willing to think a bit about the mentality behind what might possess someone to post certain kinds of cryptic, passive aggressive, or simply T.M.I "sharing," then you may certainly think twice about your own online behavior.

Now I just have to wonder what Strong has to say about Twitter...

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