Virtually Yours: Joanne Huspek
Ceiia, Laurel, Skye, Miss, Ally and Janna belong to an exclusive and tightly knit group on the net called Virtual Moms. Searching for friends, confidants and allies these women came together and formed more than just an online friendship. Each with this own unique backgrounds, divorces, kids and failed relationships they hesitate allowing someone knew and unknown into their midst. So, why would Janna Abraham, smart, bright and usually a good judge of character insist that Ashley MacDaniel be allowed to enter their club? With the information placed on the net by Ashley it would appear that she is a widow whose husband was killed in Iraq and whose blog summarizes her feelings, inner most thoughts and aspirations in her online blog. But, we all know that appearances or words are not always what they might seem and profiles are recreated by the writer and not everything that people write in blogs or in emails is necessarily true. Supposedly a novelist and just wanting some support for herself and her five-year-old son, Ashe as they referred to her just wants to be accepted into this group. Trying to appear as a sympathetic person or figure you might say that she manages to convince some of the group but not all. Fitting in usually takes time so why doesn’t she have any real roadblocks so to speak. Learning a lot about the other members and often agreeing with their insights and thoughts helps her to assimilate into the group with little difficulty, But, Celia is astute and smart and she is not buying her story. Asheley shares her thoughts, feelings and personal difficulties with Missy and Laurel but Ally and Skye are easily taken in and seem to have developed a relationship with her from the start.
A novel compromised of narrative, emails and blogs we learn more about each character, their backgrounds and how they came together. Skye just out of a relationship with a woman named Trina. Celia dealing with her teenage daughter, Laurel trying to rekindle and save her marriage, Greg and Ally in a tight relationship, Skye pondering her next move and Missy having to sort through what he husband might really be doing. Earl, never home and always disappointing his kids, Laurel constantly having to deal with her lack of funds and not wanting her friends to know the truth behind her life and much more these women are loyal, honest to a fault and really great friends. So, what will happen when they bear their souls to Ashley and learn the truth behind why she wants to join their group? Read her blog to learn more about her life with Mac and her frustrations and hopes for her future. What happens when someone in her family learns her secret? How does this person react?
The blog is quite revealing and she relates her feeling for Mac, her life now and what she hopes to accomplish but what is her real reason for befriending the Virtual Moms? What happens to each one is quite sad at times as Missy’s husband Earl decides to leave and she hides the truth from her two girls. One who realizes the lies and the other suspended from school. Ceiia fighting her own demons and her own struggles still quite leery of Ashe. Next, Laurel’s world seems to be falling apart in school, her auto accident and finances yet not admitting that to her friends. Ally and Greg seem solid, where Skye is forging ahead with her career and Janna might have met Mr. Right. Each one battling their own pasts, secrets that still are quite hidden and one member named Ashe that when the truth comes out might destroy more than just their trust. When the members related to Ashe they literally bear their souls. When asking questions in reverse she skirts around the issues and offers help for their problems never really revealing too much about herself. The blog is supposed to be about her life and editing for a self-publishing company where she makes money. But, her brother is her conscience trying to help her sort through her lies and deal with them in the present. Ashe is hiding something and it is obvious to the reader that it has yet to be revealed. Celia is smart, astute and does not understand when she phones her who the person on the other end of the phone is and why they won’t identify themselves.
Secrets have a way of coming out and some can ruin relationships while others might strengthen. Ashe has a secret and when revealed things will change the dynamics of this tightly knit group, opinions will be swayed and what Celia learns from the private investigator might create more than just a rift within this group. But, sometimes the truth rears its head in the form of an honest confrontation and revelation. Laurel and Joe’s relationship is fragile and when her father is taken ill they begin to reassess their lives and Joe decides its time to step up and take control. Celia meets a hot pool guy who takes the place of one who is doing a poor job and the dialogue between them ignites more than just sparks. Missy and Ashe become good friends and without knowing it helps her straighten out her life, teach Earl many lessons he will never forget and maybe wake up her two girls that change can happen and parents do not always get along and don’t cast blame when you don’t know the whole story. Skye is unique and you fall in love with her son Rob and then we meet Dude. Just who he is I cannot reveal everything, as you will have to write to her or IM her to find out. Janna started something that was supposed to bring these women together, make them a second family and support group all because they were hunting for Beanie Babies online.
Friendship, honesty, trust, understand, betrayals, deceit, lies and open truths are part of the messages told within this book, each email, the blog that was created to tell about the life of someone Ashe cared about for so long and the honest truth that will allow Ashe to remain or not remain as part of Virtual Moms. Each character with her own separate story and each with her own successes, triumphs and failures. Each with their own story, their own needs and each linked to the others for support, understanding and just plain friendship. When Ashe does not send a picture of herself or her son to the group Celia becomes suspicious. When Skye and Ashe bond over emails they realize that Janna had another reason for hooking them up.
Author Joanne Huspek takes the reader inside the world of emails, online friendships, IM’s and meeting and cultivating friendships in what most might call the cyber world. Just how safe is it to tell strangers your innermost thoughts, give them your phone number and reveal where you live? Virtually Yours will test your viewpoint on online friendships, how far you will go to meet someone and just how special Celia, Missy, Laurel, Janna, Skye, Ally and you decide Ashe might really be. Whose friendships survive, whose lives remain the same and whose change? Characters that are believable, credible and definitely down to earth. Will Celia give in to her feelings for the hot pool guy? Will Missy allow Earl back in her life? What about Skye and where do we see Laurel? These and many other questions you will have to learn for yourself when you read the book. Virtually Yours: Virtually filled with humor, some mystery, some tears but definitely worth the read.
Fran Lewis: reviewer