Culture Street

Books

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

On August 19, 2013

By Sophia Whitfield

A brilliantly fresh novel that looks at the trappings of living life through social media.

Leila is an isolated young woman who prefers communicating through the internet rather than face to face. She regularly chats in forums on the 'Red Pillí site, known for its ethical discussions and Platonic references. After she has been communicating voraciously on this site for some time its founder Adrian Dervish contacts Leila directly to set up a meeting.

As they walk on Hampstead Heath, Adrian asks Leila to impersonate Tess online, a woman in her late thirties who desires to take her own life, but does not want to put her family and friends through the angst of her loss.

Leilaís circumstances are such that she sympathises and understands Tessís request. Tess begins to give Leila information about herself to assist with the task. Family background, past boyfriends and past employment are all examined in detail. The difficulty is that they are polar opposites, Tess is an attractive extrovert with bipolar tendencies and Leila has lived a closeted insular existence with no friends to speak of. Tessís erratic tendencies mean Leila initially struggles with her identity, but she soon deludes herself into thinking she is Tess, finding it easy to communicate online as this new improved version of herself.

As Leila narrates her story of texting and communicating in the name of Tess we discover she is in a commune in Spain, a place she has fled to in search of Tess. As the story progresses emotional manipulation comes to the fore as Leila becomes more caught up in Tessís life, one she herself has fabricated for friends and family.

Moggach has a talent for making the reader question almost every characterís motive throughout the novel. Are they really who they say they are?

Kiss Me First is a psychological thriller for the digital age that will keep you on the edge of your seat. A fine debut from Lottie Moggach.

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