Social Engagement: A Novel (Hardcover)
"If you’re looking for a page-turner with some bite, this one’s for you." —theSkimm
“Twisty and absorbing, full of family secrets and millennial weddings.” —Jennifer Close, bestselling author of Girls in White Dresses and Marrying the Ketchups
A bitingly sharp and darkly humorous debut novel exploring millennial wedding culture, class, and relationships, all filtered through the ever-present lens of social media.
In an opulent honeymoon suite in Watch Hill, Rhode Island’s most desirable wedding venue, 29-year-old Callie Holt is spending her wedding night lying in a bathtub shoveling down a pizza; her expensive white dress now splattered with sauce and her groom passed out in the next room. With her seven-hour-old marriage already imploded, Callie turns to the place of record – her phone – sifting through the photographic evidence of the past year to pinpoint where it all went wrong.
Could it have started when Callie moved in with her best friend, Virginia Murphy, in the swanky Upper East Side pied-à-terre for which Virginia’s parents foot the bill? Or when Virginia’s irritatingly attractive cousin (and Callie’s secret ex) Ollie returned from pursuing his photography career abroad, throwing a wrench in Callie’s relationship with her kind (if a bit dim) finance bro boyfriend, Whit? Or was the true turning point when Callie stumbled upon a dark secret lurking in the Murphys’ well-heeled past, one with the potential to upend everything Callie knows about the people she considers her second family?
Over the course of one wedding-filled year, all these long-simmering secrets and resentments will come bubbling to the surface, leading to a reckoning that will strip Callie and everyone around her down to their most gruesomely real, filter-free selves. As Callie attends wedding after wedding, getting tagged in post after post, she begins to contemplate—and actualize through her own art—the gulf between the true selves of the people around her and the selves they present on their screens.
Avery Carpenter Forrey is a writer, editor, and creative consultant. She was a founding team member and Managing Editor at theSkimm, where she cowrote the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Skimm Your Life. She holds an MFA in fiction from NYU, and her work has been published in The Cut, GQ, and elsewhere.
"Millennial wedding culture gets a much-needed skewering in this alternately light and biting novel." — Vogue
"If you’re looking for a page-turner with some bite, this one’s for you." — theSkimm
"This is a story about a wedding gone wrong, a bride with regrets, and the role of social media in creating false narratives about relationships. ... Poignant. ... A perfect gift for someone planning a wedding."
— Zibby Owens, Katie Couric Media
“Social Engagement, Forrey’s debut novel and a uniquely 21st-century mystery, runs with a pretty clever conceit, a detective story using the detritus of social media as the clues they are.” — Buzzfeed
“I picked up SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT to read one chapter and didn’t put it down until I finished it later that night. This novel is a masterful and sharp exploration of friendship, family, class, and social media. Forrey’s debut is twisty and absorbing, full of family secrets and millennial weddings, and you won’t want to miss it!” — Jennifer Close, bestselling author of Girls in White Dresses and Marrying the Ketchups
“Social Engagement is a witty and addictive behind-the-scenes account of today’s highly curated and hashtagged wedding world. Clear your weekend and prepare to fall in love with this delicious debut.” — Lauren Weisberger, bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty
"Like a candy-colored wedding favor with a daringly dark center, Avery Carpenter Forrey’s Social Engagement is as mordant and incisive as it is utterly delectable. And its growing emotional heft makes it linger long after its bittersweet final pages." — Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Turnout
“I can’t remember the last time I read a book that so perfectly captures the humor, absurdity, and anguish of how we live now. Avery Carpenter Forrey’s prose will cut you to the bone—it’s wickedly funny, and keenly observant about matters ranging from real estate to Instagram to the perils of the wedding industrial complex. This is an astounding debut.” — Grant Ginder, author of The People We Hate at the Wedding and Let's Not Do That Again
“Unputdownable and razor-sharp, Social Engagement is an addictive ride through the ultra-relatable highs and lows of a woman navigating millennial wedding culture and her own path to love and meaning in a screen-filled world. Forrey's is a fresh new voice in fiction that effuses wit and heart in equal measure; I joyfully devoured her stunning debut.” — Carola Lovering, author of Tell Me Lies and Too Good to Be True
“Avery Carpenter Forrey’s Social Engagement is a bitingly funny, acutely self-aware coming-of-age story about growing up on the edge of the inside, close enough to feel the allure of money and power but not enough to be stupefied or protected by it. A wedding novel that begins after the glass is broken and the wedding dress is stained, I raced through it to find out how the champagne-drenched pieces would come together.” — Isabel Kaplan, author of NSFW
"In clever, taut prose exploring our obsession with the tiny screens that shape our stories, Social Engagement somehow feels both modern and timeless—in exposing the ugly (yet universal) parts of ourselves we prefer to hide, Forrey reveals the ways in which we try, and try again, to love ourselves—and other people—properly. A thought-provoking debut with an unsettlingly relatable protagonist you’ll wish you could include in your group chat." — Caitlin Barasch, author of A Novel Obsession
“A smart and appealing chronicle of a woman reexamining her life on her wedding night. … [Carpenter Forrey] portrays the book’s multifaceted characters with honesty and tenderness, especially as events build toward a climactic wedding-night confrontation. Readers will enjoy this heartfelt story.” — Publishers Weekly
“Forrey’s gift for making the everyday feel compelling shines throughout. … An absorbing novel about the trials of navigating adulthood.” — Kirkus Reviews
"A fun and fast read that reveals what can happen if we remove all the filters in our lives and strip the world down to our authentic selves." — Lee Woodruff