(Make sure to preorder this book!)
From the bestselling author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler comes a fresh, funny, and thoughtful story about going off the grid in order to truly live.
As one of the most popular influencers on social media, Mia Bell has lived her life online for years. With her celebrity dog and gorgeous fiancé, she is planning the ultimate virtual wedding—expensive, elaborate, and entirely paid for by sponsors. But off-camera, her world is far from picture-perfect. After being jilted by her fiancé and faking her nuptials to please her sponsors, Mia finally has had enough. She heaves her phone off a cliff, ready to live—and maybe find love—offline for a change.
Mia’s sudden absence doesn’t go unnoticed, especially by techie loner Paige Miller, who hacks Mia’s account and begins impersonating the internet celebrity. Paige has her reasons. Her half-sister, Jessica, idolizes Mia and desperately needs something to believe in. If taking over Mia’s online persona is Paige’s only means of connecting to her sister, so be it.
Creating a like-worthy life is more fun than Paige expected. But when she grows too bold and is caught in the act, a fiasco ensues that could forever change Mia, Paige, and the people who love them. Because somewhere amid the chaos is an invaluable lesson—one that only real life can teach.
“Even casual users know how absurd and unrealistic social media can be—yet keep logging on day after day. Kelly Harms takes this dichotomy to new heights in a clever and unputdownable story of two women whose so-called online lives collide IRL. I laughed, I cried, I came away from the experience with a newfound appreciation for life—which is to say THE BRIGHT SIDE OF GOING DARK is everything I’d hope for in a Kelly Harms novel, and more. I loved every page.” —Camille Pagán, bestselling author of I’m Fine and Neither Are You
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, published in May 2019 ~
An Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller, and a Goodreads Choice Award finalist.
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.
Usually grounded and mild-mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man, in particular, makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life or return to the life she left behind.
But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.
“A laugh-out-loud funny, pitch-perfect novel that will have readers rooting for this unlikely, relatable, and totally lovable heroine, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is the ultimate escape—and will leave moms everywhere questioning whether it isn’t time for a #momspringa of their own.” —New York Journal of Books
“Librarians and book lovers will fall for Amy and Harms (The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane) writes a great light read full of tears, laughter, and charming, relatable characters.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“In the easygoing, character-driven style of Liane Moriarty and Barbara Davis, this story of an underappreciated single mom with more freedom than she's entirely comfortable with mixes the self-assured highs with the guiltiest lows of modern motherhood. Harms’s warm and witty novel will tickle fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.” —Booklist
Some Q & A with Kelly ~
What are you working on now?
My publisher and I have been working at turbo speed getting a new release to readers within a year of Amy Byler—that way no one has to wait too long between books. It’s called THE BRIGHT SIDE OF GOING DARK—and the cover is so new this basically serves as my reveal today! I LOVE this book. I love every book, but this one is so quirky and I really, really love the characters—even though at first I wanted to shake them into submission!
Paige, a reclusive brainiac who just can’t seem to get with the whole program, came to me fully formed, refusing to say her lines or do as I told her. Then I found out why Paige was the way she was: to be the perfect foil to Mia, the young woman who’s entire life comes out of doing and saying exactly what she’s supposed to, and for an audience, at that. She’s a social “influencer,” and her phone is running her life. (Can anyone here relate?) Paige, a programmer extraordinaire, is running Mia’s phone.
It’s a messy web that will result in utter chaos for both of them, but for the reader, I can promise at least a few laughs and that ah-ha feeling of what it would look like to get a bit of space from the digital madness and Gram-worthy pressures we feel in this modern life.
Is anything in your work based on real-life experiences?
All of it is, and none of it at the same time. I had a friend complain “I thought this would finally be the book you put me into!” but unfortunately for that friend, I think all my characters are bouncing around up there in my noggin already, just waiting to be cast in a story. They’re all aspects of me, amplified, explored, and exposed. Like Amy Byler, I’m a single mom. Like Nean from THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS OF SHIPWRECK LANE, I often leap before I look. Like Lily from THE MATCHMAKERS OF MINNOW BAY, I wish every friend I’d ever made could live next door to me forever, and like Mia Bell from my upcoming release, I secretly suspect that yoga is the secret answer to every question. (And if not yoga, then try cookies.)
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
The letters that Amy Byler’s teenaged daughter Cori wrote are by far my favorite part of THE OVERDUE LIFE OF AMY BYLER—because I had fun writing them and because they do such hugely important work within the story development. I love Cori—she was my best buddy when writing this book. I hereby vow to give Cori her own book someday. The trouble with Cori getting a sequel right now is that she’s just too healthy and high-functioning for me to have real fun with on a larger scale. But give me time, and I’ll see if I can’t undo that!
For THE BRIGHT SIDE OF GOING DARK, I had to go deep, deep into my heart to write a scene that brought me to my knees. It came out in one big rush of words, and I had to honor that and try to keep my brain out of it. Later, my editor shared how it had affected her, and as she spoke about it, I honestly couldn’t figure out how I’d gotten through it successfully. A drop of magic, perhaps. I hope it touches my readers as much, and finds someone in a dark moment and lights her way, if only just by knowing they aren’t alone.
What are the biggest downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
If you ask around, you’ll hear that lots of writers find the publishing industry itself to be a maze of confusion and frustration. Sometimes I do too, even after 20 years (!) in the business in one form or another. There are aspects of the work of publishing—touring, interviews (Hi!), social media—that are diametric opposites to the work of writing, making it hard to be both writer and businesswoman at the same time.
And yet… wouldn’t it be boring if all I did was write in solitude and comfort similar to how men created some of the great works of the past? With a wife, a nanny, a salon, a benefactor? Maybe it would be great! But that’s not how this works for me. I have to leave my writing cave to have something to write about. I have to live in real life to speak to real readers. And though juggling can be exhausting, I’m not quite ready to give up any of the joys of parenting, partnering, or publicity in service of the words. So perhaps the very things that make it tricky are the same things that make it my dream career. All I know is that I'm sure having fun.