Going Viral: A Socially Distant Love Story

Going Viral: A Socially Distant Love Story
Age Range
Release Date
November 02, 2021
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When Claire Draper's fictional love story goes viral in the wake of a pandemic, the line between reality and fiction is blurred. But will she be able to tell the difference? Claire is a junior in high school when a worldwide pandemic strikes, and she's in the epicenter of it all in New York City. Suddenly, Claire is forced to isolate with her family indefinitely, which means she won't be able to see her friends or even her girlfriend, Vanessa, in person for a long time. At first it's not so bad, but the longer the pandemic lasts, the more Claire feels her priorities changing. That's when she looks outside her bedroom window and notices something new: A girl who lives in the building across the street sitting on her fire escape. So Claire starts writing a story online about a girl who falls for the girl across the street. To Claire's surprise, the story goes viral-and it seems people think it's true. But how true is true? And what if Vanessa finds out? Will Claire be able to manage her newfound internet fame before everything spirals out of control?

Editor review

1 review
intriguing pandemic story
Overall rating
Writing Style
GOING VIRAL is an intriguing look into the COVID-19 pandemic - particularly the uncertainty and difficulties of the beginning. When Claire finds out that school will be dismissed for 2 weeks due to the cases, she is shocked - everyone had been saying it was not that bad, but now it is that bad. Her girlfriend, Vanessa, tries to reassure her, but Claire mainly just feels shock.

At home, things are strained. Her parents are trying their best, but her mother is also worried about the virus and about money - her job may be furloughed due to the pandemic changes. Claire is frustrated that Vanessa does not seem to understand how she feels, as she spends her time baking and enjoying time with her family. She is constantly reminding Claire to look into colleges - but how can she do that when the world is falling apart?

Then, Claire notices a girl on the fire escape across the street, and she is so intrigued that she begins writing about her on the social media site, Babble. As the story takes off, Claire's own feelings between distorted, and she is not sure how to proceed in love or life.

What I loved: The book does a really great job of portraying the pandemic and closures, particularly the beginning, which was uncertain and frightening. The variety of reactions is also demonstrated through Claire and her circle as they each find their own mechanisms of coping. In terms of being a book about portraying the real times of the last year or two, the book does a great job of showing these difficulties - the big ones and the small ones. Additionally, the major themes were intriguing around not only the pandemic and coping but also honesty. The f/f relationship rep was also great to see.

What left me wanting more: The flow of the book was troubled by the lack of major epiphanies - except around the importance of honesty, and I wanted a bit more character growth to really believe in the way things concluded. The romance from both sides felt a bit forced, and as that is majority of the book, it was tough to fully buy in to or cheer for. I would have liked greater depth, more resolution of the conflicts and insensitivities, and more about the good times to fully be on board with it all.

Final verdict: Overall, GOING VIRAL is an intriguing look at the pandemic and coping strategies that will resonate with readers who have lived through these challenging times.
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