For the first time, my author’s birthday celebratory post has landed on the author’s actual birthday! Happy Birthday, Zoella!
About the Author
Zoe Sugg was born on the 28th March 1990, in Wiltshire, England. As well as being an accomplished author, Zoe is mostly known for her incredibly successful YouTube channel, under the name ‘Zoella‘.
There are three books in the Girl Online series; Girl Online, Girl Online: On Tour and Girl Online: Going Solo. I’ve yet to read the next two instalments but I will definitely be reading them soon!
Girl Online is the first teenage book that I’ve come across that tackles the issue of anxiety. In a world where mental health is becoming less taboo, a book like Girl Online is great for teen readers who may be dealing with similar issues or have a friend who is.
As well as the subject of anxiety, there is a whole host of other real life issues that are brought up as well, issues that are particularly common in the young people of today. With the digital world ever expanding, Girl Online highlights the naivety of young people and the internet. Everything on the internet it fair game, anyone can see it and you’re never truly anonymous. Okay, so you’re probably never going to end up accidentally dating a celebrity who’s stuck in a fake PR relationship and having the details splashed all over the internet. But the message is still clear.
“Every time you post something online you have a choice. You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world—or you can make it something that takes away.”
Another common theme in Girl Online is the issue of miscommunication. Here’s where everything I learned in my degree pops out and proves that I did actually learn something! Communicating face to face is more than just words, we have body language, tone, facial expressions and gestures to help guide us in the whole meaning behind what someone is saying. Over the internet, this is all lost. Sure, we have emojis but sometimes they can be perceived as sarcastic…can’t they? As a result, miscommunication occurs often and we’re left wondering, what exactly do they mean by that?
Girl Online also deals with friendships and how to deal with growing apart from your friends. This is a huge issue that almost everyone goes through but is rarely ever spoken about. Most youth organisations focus on romantic relationships and how to spot the warning signs there, but no one ever discusses what to do when a friend is mistreating you. No one ever tells you that you don’t have to be friends with someone you don’t want to be friends with and for your own sake, it’s okay to walk away if you need too. I think every teenager has a story of a friend who wasn’t particularly supported by their parents when they came out as LGBT. That’s another issue tackled by Girl Online, how you can support a friend who isn’t supported by their parents.
Unlike with most teenage fiction, when you read them as a young adult, the trials and tribulations of a teenager are for lack of a better word, cringe. I didn’t feel this way with Girl Online, however. The story was compelling. I found Penny wasn’t an annoying teenager who whined all the time or behaved ridiculously. I think it’s difficult to read teenage fiction as an adult when the characters are typically teenage-ish, as it’s a reminder of how embarrassing we were as we were finding our feet in the world.
I love, admire actually, Zoe’s honesty when dealing with her own anxiety, gives people all over the world someone to connect with and know what they’re dealing with is normal and the best ways to get help and deal with what you’re going through. Just knowing that there’s someone out there in the world experience something similar to you can be a huge help, more than older generations realise.
I’ve seen journalists describe it as desperately seeking validation from strangers on the internet. In my opinion, validation is a very human thing and the internet makes it that little bit easier. Of course, using the internet for validation alone isn’t the greatest idea but it comes with the package. A lot of things are difficult to talk about in person but being behind a screen gives people confidence which is not only good for the creator but the viewers as well. It’s no secret that there are people, trolls if you will, who use the internet solely to disrupt the peace but on a whole, the internet, blogging, and vlogging are hugely positive.
As someone who is easily stressed and anxious, I wish this book was around when I was younger to have something to identify too. I definitely recommend Girl Online to teenage readers, as it’s a real eye opener to real world issues!