Genre : Young Adult
Synopsis : Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…
Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.
When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…
First and foremost I’d like to thank Netgalley for sending me this copy for review.
I’m not sure how to approach this review because while this was a solid read for me, it’s not something I would particularly pick up on my own. I don’t think the synopsis was misleading but I requested to review the book based on the cover. I think we can all agree that the cover of Follow Me Back is extremely interesting. The two main characters are Tessa and Eric. Tessa suffers from agoraphobia, this is a condition that prevents her from leaving her home due to a traumatic event. Eric is a pop star, very reminiscent of Justin Bieber, and is under constant paranoia because a fellow pop star was murdered recently by a stan (stalker-fan). I’m no celebrity so I can’t speak on behalf of what it is like to live that type of lifestyle but I do think that the author seemed to capture that aspect of the story very well. I didn’t like Eric’s personality by any means. I know he is a teenager and therefore angst-y, I just really disliked him overall. Throughout the book he is basically reverse catfishing Tessa. I felt like this aspect really dragged on and the love story was very cliche. On the other hand, I loved Tessa’s character. I really felt like I could connect to her because I have severe panic and anxiety disorder, something that was fueling her agoraphobia. Tessa starts out with having a very emotionally abusive boyfriend in the beginning of the novel, which I thought was never properly addressed. He seemed like a filler character but I personally would have liked more on his behalf. At least someone acknowledging the fact that he was abusive in a way. Tessa’s mother was very absent as she seemed to be a hard working single mother but I hated the way that she was portrayed without any acknowledgment of how actually horrible she was. Any mother that is getting verbally and noticeably frustrated at their daughter for having a disorder and being unable to leave their house is borderline child abuse. Tessa’s mother knew something clearly horrible had occurred to make Tessa become this way and yet she treated her like disorder was a pest and actively showed how disappointed she was in her daughter for not being able to concur her anxieties quicker. I would have loved to see Tessa confront her mother or even speak to her therapist about how she felt when her mother belittled her for not recovering at the pace her mother preferred.
While those problems were minor inconveniences for me and didn’t really take away from the reading experience, Tessa’s therapist was frightening. There were a few red flags in the beginning of the novel (the therapist urging Tessa to talk to strangers on social media to help with her disorder) but the real kicker happened at the end and I feel like I NEED to address it for future readers. This behavior is NOT okay in a therapist.
MINOR SPOILERS ARE COMING
Tessa’s therapist agreed and encouraged Tessa to meet the stranger that she had been speaking to through twitter and even drove her to pick up said stranger. This all happened without the consent of Tessa’s mother as well. NO MATTER HOW COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR THERAPIST YOU ARE, DO NOT GET INTO A VEHICLE WITH THEM. THAT IS NOT THEIR JOB. DO NOT MEET STRANGERS BECAUSE YOUR THERAPIST SAID IT WAS A GOOD IDEA. Not only did this happen but the therapist picked up the stranger and then DROPPED THEM OFF AT TESSA’S HOUSE ALONE TOGETHER WITHOUT HER MOTHER BEING PRESENT. This is so harmful for teens who may be reading this and going through similar therapies or just therapy in general. There are rules in place for what a therapist should and could do with their patient, I want to make it plain and clear that none of this was acceptable or safe.
Now that we got that out of the way, there was a mystery aspect to this story that had me hooked. The ending came to a complete shock for me and once it was all wrapped up nicely with a bow, we got thrown a HUGE cliffhanger. I did enjoy reading this book and I would recommend it to others with the thought in mind that they are aware that a therapist should not be, in any way, like the one in this novel. I will be picking up the next book because I have to know how this is all going to turn out.