Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

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So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.
When Leah and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant Brotheridge,mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

My thoughts:
I first became aware of Viral when the opening line went ‘viral’ on social media. Reminiscent of headlines in the UK press a few years ago it tells a tale of how an all girls holiday to Magaluf was ruined by alcohol and drugs. And other people.
Su had never wanted to go on the holiday but was forced into it. She was the sensible one who would be able to make Leah behave. She gave in hoping that that the holiday would help repair the relationship, they had been very close when they were younger but now she felt that Leah resented her. At first she quite enjoyed it, amazed by the length of time it took to get ready for the pool and getting to know Leah’s friends.
Su’s life changed completely after the video was released on the Internet. She went into hiding and tried to accept what has happened and the consequences on her life. She decided to try and make contact with her birth mother, something she had thought about doing before. Meanwhile Leah was trying to repair the damage and find her, along with their monster of a mother Ruth.
Whilst I liked and a had a lot of sympathy for Su, I found Leah easier to like. I loved her humour and the way that she handled Ruth, a woman it is impossible to say anything nice about.
I found it to be quite a refreshing read. It was sad at times but there was also humour. It’s a horrifying storyline, but it felt very real. It’s one that seems to rear its ugly head every summer, watching how a handful of teenagers behave on holiday and it ends up being headline news.