Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse is a dark, gritty and refreshingly honest portrayal of motherhood in the age of social media. It honestly blew my expectations out of the water and I couldn’t put it down. The first line will catch your attention but it's with the first chapter where the novel really draws you in, keeping you hooked and guessing throughout.
During this book we follow two women whose lives couldn’t be more different. Lo is a social media influencer with tens of thousands of followers who, to the outside world seems to have a perfect life, but is struggling through the heartbreaking process of trying to conceive. Then we have Dylan, a single mother and aspiring writer with a dark past, dreaming of another life, just trying to scrape by. When their children become best friends at school these women are thrown into each other’s lives with devastating consequences.
The chapters switch between the perspectives of the two characters, so we get to see the same situations or conversations but with completely different views. This makes for a very fun, yet sometimes frustrating ride.
We are taken on a rollercoaster of emotion, and the fact we get to see through a social media lens makes it all too real. We constantly get updated on how many followers the characters have, what goes into being a social influencer and the delicate balance of how much to share online.
This gets a lot trickier with children involved, which comes into discussion from the darker parts of the internet. These women have to find their way juggling careers and motherhood whilst also presenting a perfect image online.
Overall this was a really great read. It's eye-opening, real and has a great balance of humour sprinkled into the darkness of the story.
Not only is it a modern take on female friendships and motherhood today; it also makes a very interesting point about social media and how we need to be very careful of what we are posting online, because there’s always someone waiting to tear you down. Maybe even someone you know...
Be warned there are topics of miscarriage, abuse, self-harm, and suicide. The book lists these trigger warnings, which I always appreciate, as it can be quite heavy if you aren’t prepared.
Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse is out now.
Words by Taylor Bonner for Female First, whose Bookstagram you can follow on Insta, @starlight_and_fairytails_
tagged in Book review