This scathing yet thoughtful novel follows former influencer Anna on the eve of a groundbreaking surgery that will reverse all of her previous cosmetic enhancements, and restore her back to her “natural” self. The book alternates between the adult Anna and the 19-year-old Anna who has just arrived in L.A. from Texas.
The author never judges Anna, but simply shows us how easy it is to slip into the filtered and face-tuned mode of thinking that is all too seductive today. When her older boyfriend/manager Jake “suggests” plastic surgery to the young Anna, she goes along with it as a means to get social media sponsorships and modeling jobs. What follows next is a cautionary tale that has undercurrents of suspense that slowly builds feelings of dread.
This novel worked so well on several different levels. There’s Anna’s relationship with her mother, her relationship with her childhood best friend and a #MeToo storyline that sadly, is all too familiar. I listened to the audiobook with outstanding narration by Chelsea Stephens.
Finally, compliments to the cover artist for this evocative design! Very impressive.
About the Book:
In a debut novel as radiant as it is caustic, a former influencer confronts her past—and takes inventory of the damages that underpin the surface-glamour of social media.
At 19, she was an Instagram celebrity. Now, at 35, she works behind the cosmetic counter at the “black and white store,” peddling anti-aging products to women seeking physical and spiritual transformation. She too is seeking rebirth. She’s about to undergo the high-risk, elective surgery Aesthetica™, a procedure will reverse all her past plastic surgery procedures, returning her, she hopes, to a truer self. Provided she survives the knife.
But on the eve of the surgery, her traumatic past resurfaces when she is asked to participate in the public takedown of her former manager/boyfriend, who has rebranded himself as a paragon of “woke” masculinity in the post-#MeToo world. With the hours ticking down to her life-threatening surgery, she must confront the ugly truth about her experiences on and off the Instagram grid.
Propulsive, dark, and moving, Aesthetica is a Veronica for the age of “Instagram face,” delivering a fresh, nuanced examination of feminism, #metoo, and mother-daughter relationships, all while confronting our collective addiction to followers, filters, and faux realities.