Sunday, August 3, 2014

Life Behind the Camera: Can't Look Away

Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner
Point, Release Date: August 26, 2014

*E-Galley provided by publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacts my thoughts on this book."

In real life, she's Torrey Grey. But online, she's BeautyStarz15, a beauty guru on YouTube with tens of thousands of subscribers who watch her videos on makeup, hair, and fashion. Yet while she looks perfectly put together online, her real life is in shambles when her little sister dies, killed in an accident that Torrey and her videos played a part in. Now her family has moved to a small Texas town and complete strangers are bashing Torrey in her videos' comments sections. Can she fit in with the popular crowd here like at home (and does she even want to)? Can she really make a comeback online with all these people hating her? And what's the deal with Luis, the boy from school whose family runs the local funeral home and teaches her about The Day of the Dead?

As a YouTuber/booktuber, the premise of this book interested me. Not that my channel is popular by any means (though you can check it out for yourself at, but in my years of being a content maker, I was curious to see how another writer explores the grey area between the life we show on the camera and the real world behind it. Torrey's situation was one that I had trouble suspending reality for. Not the part about her being internet famous with hundreds of thousands of views and subscribers - I see that happen every day. No, I kept wondering how a 15 year old with no job could afford such expensive clothes and makeup. I also felt like this book puts what are known as beauty gurus on YouTube in a questionable light. Yes they focus on fashion and that sort of thing, but Torrey seemed to fall into the stereotype of not really caring about anything else. She wants to give the family statement at her sister's killer's sentencing so she can have a chance to put herself in a better light with her viewers, especially since she feels responsible for her sister's death. She also clearly has a friend in Luis and her cousin (two characters I really enjoyed - Luis being one of the more complex characters here), but much of the story gives time instead to her desire to fit in with the popular kids at her new school even though she states that all she wants is to return to Colorado.

All in all, I'd consider this book a good optional addition for libraries and a one-time read. If you're specifically interested books that take on YouTube, you might want to give it a go. However, I felt like this was a story about a YouTuber from someone who only knows YouTube culture from the outside as a viewer rather than as a content creator.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!


  1. You know that's a very good question a bout the whole no job thing so did her parents buy it for her then?

    1. That's what I'd assume, which is another factor that seems strange to me. Thanks for reading and commenting!