A Girl's Life Online
by Katherine Tarbox
reviewed by Tiffany Xia
In A Girl’s Life Online, a nonfiction autobiographical novel, the author Katherine Tarbox recounts a horrible accident that happened to her teenage-self that completely changed her life. Just like any other girls in their early ages living in the affluent New Canaan, Connecticut, Katie Tarbox, being the top student in her school and a nationally ranked swimmer, struggles with popularity and being perfect in others’ eyes. Then one day, young Katie, feeling like no one understands her, discovers the existence of universal online chat rooms on her sister, Abby’s computer and things start to get out of hand. She first begins talking to random strangers on the internet, nothing really catched Katie’s attention until she meets a twenty-three years old man, supposedly named “Mark” in a chat room. After just a few conversations with Mark, Katie says, “When we were together, Mark wasn’t twenty-something. I wasn’t a thirteen-year-old. We were equals who didn’t really have ages” (Tarbox 50), believing that Mark was someone that truly understands her and cares for her.
Katie and Mark eventually start talking on the phone and start to exchange personal informations. Katie then starts to develop a seemingly romantic relationship with him and expresses “The confidence I got from this experience, combined with thinking about Mark nonstop for eight days, helped me realize that I loved him” (73). Towards the end of Katie’s summer vacation, Katie, as an elite swimmer, goes to a swim meet in Texas and finally agrees to meet up with Mark there, the man that she loves. Being really nervous, Katie calms herself down by saying, “I was now about to meet the man I loved. He knew so much about me, but also very little” (Tarbox 91). As they finally meet, Mark does not turn out to be what Katie has thought about him this whole time. Katie’s decision of meeting Mark turns out to be something that will eventually turn her life upside down.
In the novel, Tarbox writes in first person, giving the readers insight to her feelings; which I find it to really helpful because as a teenager, she did make very wrong decisions that some people may not understand or relate. The book was extremely captivating and interesting to read for me because her curiosity at a young age is very relatable to teenagers nowadays. Her descriptive point of view also made me feel really involved in the story trying to guess what is going to happen next. I would recommend this book to young teenagers or parents because it really helps the readers build up their cautiousness about what the internet can do since it is so prevalent and popular in current life. Overall, the story was really compelling and I enjoyed it a lot.