Review: Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Title: Just for Clicks
Author: Kara McDowell
Release Date: 2/19/2019
Publisher: Amberjack
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 stars
Buy it!

Trigger Warnings: PTSD

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

Just For Clicks seems like it would be your typical YA contemporary love story, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This book deals with some incredibly important issues that go deeper than I ever expected. Featuring the slowest slow burn romance I’ve ever encountered (which I loved), Just For Clicks introduces us to Claire, who takes us on her personal journey as she figures out who she is after growing up with the world watching.

This book really made me stop and think about our share it all culture. Hardly anything is kept private anymore as we parade ourselves and our children on the internet in search of validation in the form of stranger’s likes. And we do it without thinking twice. Often it starts out as a harmless way to get our feelings out, or keep friends and family updated on life, but often it can quickly spiral out of control until you spend hours trying to get the perfect photo or rabid fans begin to take things too far.

Claire’s story is important. What she went through is what a lot of people are putting their children through in today’s world. At the end of the book, she realizes that it isn’t just her life, that everybody in it plays a part and that her life is also theirs, but she also raises the important question of where the line is. At what point do parents have to stop and realize that their life is controlling their kid’s?

Just For Clicks features PTSD rep which was so great to see! Some of the physical and emotional things that Claire goes through as a result of an event are things I find myself experiencing as a result of PTSD. It’s something that needs to be normalized and I’m so thankful to have found a book that showcases it.

The relationships Claire has with her sister, mom, and friends were so believable. They felt authentic and as Claire figured things out about herself you could see how her relationships evolved. All of the characters showed great development and they all learned about themselves.

There were a few things throughout the story that bothered me. Claire and her sister Poppy are beauty/fashion vloggers, and at one point Claire asked one of the boy love interests, Rafael, if her vlogs about hair tutorials and modeling made him think she was shallow. Can we please drop the stereotype that people who care about beauty are shallow? If that’s what a person is into then let them be! Being great at doing your hair and makeup, modeling, or fashion shouldn’t automatically mean that you’re also shallow. These things are hobbies just like reading, playing video games, or sports. Also, when Rafael accuses Claire of lying about who she is in the first part of the book I was completely put off. She never lied about herself. They had just started their friendship and were slowly learning about each other. It’s okay that she didn’t immediately share with Rafael her online personality. Heck, most of the people I know in real life don’t have a clue about my online book life, and that’s how I like it! People share pieces of themselves when they’re ready, and that’s okay.

Overall, Just For Clicks is an incredible book. It’s a quick read that makes you question things that are viewed as normal when maybe they shouldn’t be, and the story and characters stay with you. This is an impressive debut novel by Kara McDowell, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. 

A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell”

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