Many thanks to Gallery Books for a copy of Noelle Crook’s book UNDER THE INFLUENCE.
I throughly enjoyed this debut novel about the power that social media influencers hold over our everyday lives and what happens when you peek behind the curtain of their carefully curated lives and careers.
Harper is a writer who is struggling to make ends meet in New York City. When she applies for a position working for Charlotte Green, it seems almost too good to be true when she is basically hired on the spot. The job requires Harper to relocate immediately to Nashville, Charlotte’s home base, and to suddenly give up almost every waking minute to her new job.
Yes, there are tons of red flags from the outset. Everything at “the Greenhouse” feels almost like a cult atmosphere. (Green Fam! Greenlightenment!) It’s all about visibility and employees are pushed to document everything for their social media.
At first Harper is wary of Charlotte’s intensity and her insistence that everyone pledge their undying loyalty to her and her company. (“𝘏𝘢𝘳𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘪𝘯 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦’𝘴 𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳: 𝘠𝘦𝘴, 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵. 𝘚𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵.”) But Harper is soon rising quickly through the ranks even as Charlotte takes Harper’s ideas and writing and passes them off as her own.
There are flashes of The Devil Wears Prada here especially as Harper makes some questionable choices about her career at the Greenhouse. Her relationships with her old friends and her family suffer as well. But Harper drinks the corporate kool-aid and soon finds herself basking in the glow of Charlotte’s praise. (“𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘥𝘮𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘳,” 𝘏𝘢𝘳𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥.)
Charlotte curates every single detail of her life, even down to her children and husband. She hides her problematic marriage from her followers but it was hard for me to sympathize with her as a character. Harper, on the other hand, is a very likable protagonist. This book is compulsively readable, and I loved the cautionary tale about how truly, nothing on social media is at it seems. Fantastic debut novel!
About the Book:
The Devil Wears Prada meets The Assistants in this compulsively readable debut following a young woman who takes a job working for an enigmatic influencer and quickly discovers there’s a dark side to being a #girlboss.
After a series of go-nowhere jobs in the New York publishing world, Harper Cruz is broke, lonely, and desperate for a salary that won’t leave her scrambling to make rent each month. So when she stumbles across a job posting from an influencer offering triple her last paycheck, she automatically submits her résumé.
Harper may not be familiar with self-help guru Charlotte Green, but her relentless optimism and charismatic can-do spirit has created a cult-like following of women across the country. When she selects Harper among thousands of other applicants in less than twenty-four hours, it’s obvious she sees something she likes. Despite the pressure to accept the offer just as quickly as she’s been given it, Harper decides to take a leap of faith and become the newest member of The Greenhouse.
Accepting the job means a move to Nashville, and Harper is quickly dazzled by the glamorous world Charlotte has built in Music City. The Greenhouse is more than a workplace—it’s a family—and Harper soon finds herself swept into its inner circle. At first, she loves working in such an inspirational environment, where mandatory dance parties, daily intentions, and group bonding activities make up for long hours and Charlotte’s persistent demands for loyalty. But the deeper Harper is pulled into Charlotte’s world, the more she realizes that having it all and being it all comes with a price.