A gripping page-turner exploring online and offline bullying, abuse of social media and identity theft, Sophie McKenzie’s new book, SweetFreak, will keep you guessing until the very end.
My new book SweetFreak was inspired by two things: the horrific stories of online abuse and cyberbullying among teens that seem to rear up in the news every few weeks – and the idea that once you’ve been accused of a terrible crime your life changes forever, whether or not you’re guilty.
In my story, popular Carly is framed for a death threat (made by anonymous user SweetFreak on the invented social media app NatterSnap) against her best friend Amelia. The evidence against her seems conclusive and even those friends and family who start off believing she is innocent end up convinced of her guilt.
The book explores not only how Carly copes when people start turning their backs – but also how she tries to fight back against the lies and find out who SweetFreak really is. Plenty of people have a motive to want to hurt her – from her sister’s boyfriend to one of the girls in her class. Carly is determined to expose the truth and win back her life.
At its heart, SweetFreak is about how Carly deals with the loss of her friends. Various types of parental neglect are depicted in the book, but also incredible support and strong family units. It shows how important friends – and romantic relationships – are, but also how easy it is to lose a sense of your true self when you’re trying to work out where and how you fit in to other people’s lives.
And of course it’s a mystery story, one where the reader will hopefully be turning the pages as fast as possible, caught up in Carly’s world and as eager as she is to discover SweetFreak’s true identity.
SweetFreak is publishing 24 August, from Simon & Schuster. Suitable for children 12+.