- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: HarperAvenue (March 14 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1443449229
- ISBN-13: 978-1443449229
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #188,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Mitzi Bytes: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, Mar 14 2017
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“Entertaining, engaging and timely, Mitzi Bytes is a pleasure to read from start to finish. It heralds the arrival of a fantastic, fun new novelist on the Canadian scene.” (Toronto Star)
“In Mitzi Bytes, Kerry Clare meld a stew of motherhood, modernity, and mounting, with a sly combo of raucous humour, dollops of humanity, and lively, congenial truths. This is a delightful novel where a woman finds self-acceptance amid the unfortunate ramifications of her snappy social observations.” (Anakana Schofield, Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author of Martin John)
“I could not put this down down. Literary, intelligent, and witheringly funny, Mitzi Bytes is the love child of a suspense-driven thriller and a feminist primer on maternal alienation. I suggest you read this book immediately.” (Dr. May Friedman, author of Mommyblogs and the Changing Face of Motherhood)
From the Back Cover
Back at the beginning of the new millennium, when the Internet was still unknown territory, Sarah Lundy started an anonymous blog documenting her return to the dating scene after a devastating divorce. The blog was funny, brutally honest, and sometimes outrageous. Readers loved it. Through her blog persona, “Mitzi Bytes,” Sarah not only found her feet again, but she found her voice.
Fifteen years later, Sarah is happily remarried with children and she’s still blogging, but nobody IRL (in real life)—not even her husband or best friends—knows about Mitzi. None of them knows that Sarah has been mining their deepest feelings and confessions and sharing these stories with the world with a dose of biting judgment—which means that Sarah is in serious trouble when threatening emails arrive from the mysterious Jane Q. Guess what, the first one says. You’re officially found out.
As she tries to find out Jane Q’s identity before her secret online self is revealed to everyone, Sarah starts to discover that her loved ones have secrets of their own, and that stronger forces than she imagined are conspiring to turn her world upside down.
A grown-up Harriet the Spy for the digital age, Mitzi Bytes examines the bonds of family and friendship, and the truths we dare tell about ourselves—and others.See all Product description
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I had a really hard time rating this book.
I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to Love "Mitzi Bytes" - but it just didn't happen that way.
Fifteen years ago Sarah was dealt a blow (divorce) and ended up writing an anonymous blog as "Mitzi Bytes" - a relatable woman in her 20s trying to make sense of where her life had gone wrong and move forward. Skip ahead to present day, Sarah is married, a mother and still writing her blog, and no one knows.
At least Sarah assumes no one knows until she receives an email from Jane Q "Time's up. You're officially found out."
Good concept eh?
This book spends a lot of time examining why Sarah continues to blog, even as she's moved on from her divorce and life seems to be going really well. We are able to read the blog archives (really enjoyed being able to see who Sarah was), but the thing that stands out to me is that Sarah moved from blogging about her own experiences to blogging about experiences that she observed. Hence Jane Q getting angry about the posts and wanting to "out" Sarah to the world.
My issue is that I didn't really like Sarah - and although I love a flawed character, Sarah really doesn't think she's in the wrong.
That being said, I do agree with other reviews that this would make a good book club read as there are many points for discussion: Kerry Clare is able to examine what makes a person tick, trying to balance motherhood versus having your own identity, managing those PTA/school yard relationships (the mothers not the children), accepting the in-laws for who they are (as well as their role in your life), and the major theme was friendships between women.
Okay, so obviously, I loved that Mitzi Bytes is about a blogger. Blogging is a big part of my life and I liked how Clare addresses the issue of the anonymity of blogging. How what you type doesn't stay on your blog but is thrown out into the world where those words can hurt others. You don't blog in a bubble and Sarah learns that the hard way when her dual lives as Sarah and Mitzi are forced to converge.
Sarah was a complex gal. She's definitely flawed, not overly likable and yet I think readers will be able to relate to her on some level. We've all had mean thoughts but never voiced them. Sarah used her blog to share those thoughts but never expected them to hit their targets. Was she naive to think she'd remain anonymous with major book deals under her belt? Yes. I think the big thing that kept me from jumping on the Sarah bandwagon was the fact that she repeatedly justified her often mean spirited words. Just admit that, while the posts were what you thought at the time, they were still mean! And yet, her struggle (and it was a struggle) to realize that not everything was about her felt genuine. She's a complicated gal.
What stood out for me is Sarah's strength which, I believe, she draws from her blog. She used it as a cathartic release as she figured out who she is as a woman, mother, wife, sister-in-law and friend. I think many readers will connect with Sarah and her struggle to maintain her own identity, her strained relationships with her in-laws and her commitment to be a good Mom while the highly competitive/high-maintenance PTA super moms are ready to pounce at any weakness. But, as she soon finds out, her blog is also a weakness when her words are revealed to those around her.
One of the weaknesses in the book for me were the secondary characters. They were a diverse bunch but very much in the background with the men folk being too thinly drawn. Sarah's husband's lack of backbone and easy acceptance of the fallout was hard to believe and her brother-in-law was a one-sided jerk with no redeeming qualities to be seen. Not a good day for Team Testosterone.
What readers will enjoy is Clare's humour which is sprinkled throughout. I also enjoyed the addition of the blog archives as a great way to give the reader more background on Sarah/Mitzi and read the words that got people so upset. Honestly, I liked Mitzi and her posts about women and their balancing act between being a mother, wife, sister-in-law etc. I found the posts relatable as were the sometimes complicated relationships women have with each other.
As the blurb suggests I was expecting a 'Harriet the Spy all grown up' kind of read ... and it was. And then it kind of wasn't. The first part of the book builds this tension about Jane Q's identity but then the identity is revealed rather quickly and the focus becomes Sarah's lack of sympathy and justifying her online words repeatedly.
Overall, my feelings for this book are all over the place. I really liked some topics that were addressed but felt other aspects were lacking. This book raises several issues, specifically relationships women have with each other, the anonymity of the internet and the struggles modern women face making to good fodder for book clubs.
As I ran my fingers across the stacks of books, I’d stop briefly on one, then another. Then Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare grabbed me! The inside flap described a blogger who created her online persona and after years of writing she was exposed. Trying to remain incognito so she could write freely wound up making her the talk of the town. Mitzi finds herself at a crossroads with her writing and some of her relationships.
I was hooked immediately!
I can’t say this is a hilarious book, and it may not be brilliantly written, but it is a light, enjoyable read. It cleverly demonstrates the vivid mind (world) of a writer and the …. ummmmm ….. awkward moments it can create for us. The Author brings up dilemmas most authors encounter at some point in their writing life. (even if we don’t want to admit it – see my post about my most recent dilemma)
I’m not sure if it was intentional but through Mitzi Bytes, the Author encourages writers to examine our perceptions and our calling. Kerry guides us through these examinations through the eyes of one anonymous writer and leads us to having more confidence in our voice.
For a “light and enjoyable” read, I have learned so much more about writers and the craft of writing. Thanks Kerry!
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