We all have those books that we remember reading voraciously as teenagers. Some of us were lucky enough to see those books on screen. For me, I absolutely adored the Pretty Little Liars series and have really enjoyed exploring where the author, Sara Shepard, has gone since the series ended.  She’s written some adult books, some more traditional mysteries, and spin-offs, but now she’s back with a thrilling YA book all about the dangers of “influence” and social media, and we think you’re going to love it!

Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham is FFL’s February book club pick. It is available wherever books are sold, and we look forward to discussing this with you in our exclusive Facebook group and on other social media–such as our Instagram. 

Social media dominates so much of our lives now–if you’re not on there, it’s almost like you’re missing out on part of the world. But social media can become your life if you’re not careful. The influencers at the center of this novel all experience that fame in different ways.

There’s Delilah, new to the world of influencing after her video goes viral. Can the new girl keep her innocence, or will LA’s influencer culture change her?

There’s also Scarlett, a vlogger and big-time influencer who’s got that picture perfect relationship but also a lot of secrets and stress.

Then we have Jasmine, a child-star turned adult who is trying to figure out how to be herself without alienating her audience.

To round it out we have Fiona, a high-strung wannabe actress trying to break into a business that isn’t always kind to her. 

But this is a Sara Shepard novel, so you know the perfection is going to crack. When one of the girls ends up dead, the rest must team up to figure out who did it and why, because all of their lives–and careers–are on the line, and in the world of influencer culture, would you kill to keep the image alive? 

I was immediately drawn to this book because my life in isolation has included a lot more time on social media, including watching YouTube family vlogs and the like. It is such a fascinating world. There are some who do it–in my opinion–in a healthy way, showing the highs and lows of life, and there are others who are obsessed with their “perfect” family-ness, photo shopping their baby’s wrinkles, etc. How insane, right? But it’s such a big part of society right now. Not to mention, I love a good mystery, so seeing these two worlds collide in a novel? An excellent read to follow-up  our January pick, a fascinating, sassy biography of George Washington

What really sold this book though was its authenticity. Sara Shepard is basically a household name, but for this novel she teamed up with a co-author, real life influencer Lilia Buckingham. Buckingham is a teenage influencer, actress, and dancer who lives in Los Angeles. While it’s hard to tell exactly what each co-author contributed, it’s easy to feel her influence (pun intended) on the book. Some of the things these influencers do is crazy, especially to me. What is even crazier is Buckingham infuses her own experiences and what she’s witnessed from others into the book, so most of it is true. 

We hope you enjoy reading this book. We hope it takes you away from the real world for a few minutes and blows your mind. And we hope you’re intrigued by the mystery and excited to join us in a conversation about social media and influencers, YA murder mysteries, and our own experiences with series like Pretty Little Liars!

Get your copy of Influence here.

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Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member