India Roman is married to a banker fifteen years her senior, has four year old twins and a demanding mother and younger sister. Her younger sister Cylia has a number of mental health issues and has been encouraged, by her mother and therapist, to enter STAR a reality TV talent contest much like The X-Factor but on an international level. However, when her taller, beautiful sister bottles out at the auditions, India not only takes her place but actually gets through to the next round.
Whilst Cylia is still missing India returns home to find her husband has left her, his job, their home and has moved abroad with the woman with whom he is having an affair. With no income, arrears in her bills and mortgage and the threat of being homeless or worse still, moving back in with her mother, India takes up the chance to win ten thousand pounds by being in an episode of STAR. Reluctantly leaving her twins with her mother, India braves the rigmarole and politics that goes with being a young reality TV contestant. The trouble is, she isn’t voted off, how long can she keep the charade up of being twenty-one year old Cylia? Where is Cylia? The police suspect she has gone away with her boyfriend and aren’t taking her disappearance seriously.
This was a remarkably gripping psychological chick lit thriller and not only was it funny and moving in parts, it also had some great twists and turns. The characters were easy to believe in and the book was easy to pick up and put down. You really do feel for India, being left with two children, no income and a mountain of debts. You can follow her logic, which ultimately leads her deeper and deeper into her own web of lies. The chapters were in dispersed with interviews and chat about STAR, by relentless journalist, Lucas Edison who is on a mission to bring down producer and creator of the programme, David Harnet, which adds another dimension to the plot.
There were parts of the book I found a little less believable such as the mentors and psychoanalyst; they just didn’t seem in keeping with my experience of mentors or psychoanalysts and although I concede mentoring can vary, psychoanalysts tend to work from the same sort of basic framework, which did not seem apparent in the book. However, these things detracted little from the strong plot and characters.
Without the numerous typos and errors, which could be corrected with a good proof-read, this book is a fantastic read that I found original and funny. I did not see the big plot twist coming at the end and it is the sort of ending that makes you recount the story all over again, a bit like the movie, The Sixth Sense. A really underrated book in my opinion that could do with a polish and much, much more hype!