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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In 2015, when cyberbullies disrupt her life in Southern California, Vivi Marx decides to cut her cord with the internet and take her life offline for a year. She flees to the one place where she felt safe as a child—with her grandmother in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nevermind that her grandmother is long dead and she doesn’t know anyone else in the state. Even before she meets her new neighbors on Fieldcrest Drive, Vivi knows she’s made a terrible mistake, but every plan she makes to leave is foiled. Despite her efforts to outrun it, trouble follows her to Nebraska, just not in the ways she’d feared. With the help of her neighbors, Willa Cather’s novels, and her own imagination, Vivi finds something she hadn’t known she was searching for.…

Private Way

by Ladette Randolph

Overall Book Review:

In these modern times, I’m fairly certain that almost everyone has had at least a moment or two when they wish they could just get away from all of the updates and near constant connectivity that technology and myriad devices have to offer. I know I have felt this way, though I quickly realize that I appreciate my phone and computer and really don’t want to live without it for long. The cover of Private Way caught my eye, and once I read the synopsis I was hooked. A book about a young woman running away from the technology that she built her career from? Sign me up!

Vivi Marx has never stayed in one place for very long. As a kid, she packed up and followed her mom on a new business venture every few months or so. When she does establish a name for herself by starting a website, it becomes all-encompassing and soon Vivi feels as though her life is on display for everyone to see. Her successful business is thrilling for a while, until the trolls start hacking her accounts and sending her threats. Sitting in their homes (or anywhere, really) behind glowing screens, typing out words that she can only hope they would never say to her face. Vivi knows she doesn’t have to put up with the harassment–she just has to disappear.

As she contemplates how to go about ghosting her online profiles, she realizes that the last place she truly felt happy and safe was as a young girl in Nebraska, with her late grandmother. She decides to leave her home and take some of her belongings and just get away from her life, for a year. Though she has no real plans, she quickly finds a secluded cottage for rent and, leaving her phone and computer behind, sets out for the drive from LA to Nebraska.

Starting from scratch isn’t anything new to Vivi, and the promise of a quiet cottage by a meadow sounds like just what the doctor ordered. What she doesn’t count on is the presence of neighbors that live nearby trying to nose their way into her life. Though they mean well, they quickly become more involved in her days than she intended, which she fears may result in them uncovering things about her past that she had hoped she was leaving far behind…

I really enjoyed the premise of this book and how relevant it is to our society today and how inescapable the internet can feel at times. Even if you can’t relate to Vivi personally, the writing is easy to digest and paints a fictional picture of what cyberbullying can be like and how it can affect adults and their livelihood.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy from University of Nebraska Press

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 5 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 5 scatological words; 3 anatomical terms; 4 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore: A parent is mentioned to have died from a heart attack; a report is made of a young woman receiving death threats, threats of rape, and other verbal threats; a brief scene occurs where a young woman finds lots of dead rats on her property; suicide is referred to; a report is made of a man dying suddenly.

Sex/Nudity: A passing comment is made about a male professor having extramarital affairs with students; a mention is made of a man having relationships outside his marriage; a reference is made to a young woman being taken advantage of by an older male, sex is implied; lewd jokes are made about a woman and a dog sleeping in the same bed.

Mature Subject Matter:

Online threats; death; extramarital affairs; bullying.

Drugs/Alcohol Use:

An adult is mentioned to drink mojitos; a woman drinks wine in a brief scene; a brief scene occurs with minors drinking and offering an adult to join them; adults drink beer, wine, martinis; a character is referred to as tipsy.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.