Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Girl Online Book Review:
Dive Into Diversity
By: Sydney S
Have you ever read a book and felt that you couldn't relate to the characters at all? I think we all have, but it becomes a problem when this happens book after book. Not everyone has the perfect life as many books portray, which is why it's important that everyone should be able to find a character they can relate to. If you need help finding a book like this, try Girl Online by Zoe Sugg, or Zoella as she is known on YouTube.
Penny, the main character in Girl Online is far from your stereotypical teenage girl and I think that is part of her charm. Aside from her chronic clumsiness and awkwardness which I have all too much experience with myself, the main issue that sets Penny apart is that she suffers from extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Even simple tasks like riding through a crowded part of town are a struggle for her and through this novel my eyes were really opened to how hard it can be to cope with anxiety. Penny is fighting the anxious part of herself the whole book and even by the end she doesn't get rid of her panic attacks, she just learns to control them better. Since I have never read a book with a character who dealt with this issue before it is likely that many others haven't either. If I was a teen who had anxiety I'm sure I would feel alone just as Penny does in the book and just as many other teens (and even some adults) assuredly do in real life, and that is why diverse books are so important. So that no one has to feel alone.
Aside from the diversity of this realistic fiction novel, it has an amazing storyline. The book is set in modern day Brighton as well as New York, and when Sugg sets the scene you feel like you are there as well. Under the username Girl Online, Penny is an internet famous teenager who blogs anonymously about everything that happens to her in her day-to-day life. The only person who knows about her blog is her best friend Elliot who, coincidentally, is a diverse character himself. When Elliot came out as being gay, his dad flat out refused to believe him. Everytime Elliot tried to talk to his dad he waved it off as a phase and refused to accept his son's sexuality saying Elliot can "grow out of being gay."
Anyway, through her blog, Elliot, and her love for photography Penny somehow finds a way to make it through the bullies and anxiety that seem to pester her wherever she goes and still enjoy life. That is, until something big happens that changes everything. This event will forever change the way Penny deals with the problems in her life and even leads to a fairytale-esque love story…
I highly recommend Girl Online to anyone who wants to read it. I love the theme of the book as it really inspires me to face my fears. Aside from the theme the book also has an amazing tone. It is funny, conversational, and relatable; yet still deals with serious issues. Zoe Sugg went through panic attacks herself, is constantly on the internet because of her YouTube career, and has a brother a lot like Penny’s brother in the book so you can see that many of the issues Penny has and encounters stemmed from Zoe’s personal life. Thus, if you like contemporary books with a twist of humor and real-life in them, this is the one for you.

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