AMANDA911

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In an interesting choice for a young adult novel, Amanda’s brainy, globe-trotting, increasingly heavy-drinking grandfather narrates. His assessment of Amanda as dull and unremarkable seems to say more about him than it does about her. Equally incomprehensible to him is the world of online influencers—the very world into which Amanda is abruptly dropped when, after her accident, she amasses a huge following on PingPong, a Chinese-owned social media platform. Told in three parts through short, dialogue-driven prose, Amanda’s unassuming ordinariness in the face of this intense commodification of her misfortune is showcased. The teen’s struggles with her parents, who are terrified by the prospect of screen addiction and its associated ills but vicariously thrilled by their daughter’s newfound fame, are played for comedic effect, insightfully underscoring the disconnect between different generations’ relationships to technology. However, the presentation of social movements and theories—such as #MeToo, identity politics, and microaggressions—through this same absurdist, tongue-in-cheek tone comes off as glib and trivializing. Amanda and her family are White; there is some ethnic diversity in the supporting cast.

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