Meet Jenny, a thirty-something angst-ridden woman whose life is falling apart. She is unloved, unemployable and her long suffering friends seem sick of her! Then, Jenny’s mother turns up with a suitcase and plans to stay. Meanwhile, Jenny’s social media portrays a carefree, untroubled life.
The problem is, Jenny is constantly online, anxiously checking her social news feed, seeking continual validation and gratification. When we meet Jenny, she is struggling to caption a photo of a croissant. She spends an enormous amount of time editing, rewriting and second guessing herself.
“If you put something on social media and no one likes it, do you even exist?” she asks.
All the praise that has been heaped on Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest novel is justified. Adults is a sharp, quick witted exploration of digital anxiety. It is a brilliant satire on the social media age of self-promotion - equal parts comedy and tragedy. Aside from exploring digital dependency, Adults delves into more complex themes of personal relationships, including friendship, maternal and romantic.
If you enjoyed Holly Wainwright’s How to be Perfect or Identity Crisis by Ben Elton you will appreciate the nuance of Adults. Fans of Celeste Barber and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s tragicomedy Fleabag will find Adults especially relatable. If you especially identify with Jenny’s screen addiction, check out Life Unplugged for how to break the digital cycle.
Emma Jane Unsworth is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. Her previous novel, Animals,has been adapted into a film. Adults is currently being adapted for television. She is also writing a memoir about post-natal depression. Follow Emma Jane online.
Reviewer: Andrea Molloy
Quarto, RRP $32.99