Thursday, July 6, 2017

[Review] My Life as a Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

Add to Goodreads
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy)24/05/2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Pages: 288
Source: Library
Genre: YA {Contemporary}

Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity

Book Tunes
♪ The Veronicas - This Is How It Feels ♪
Stephanie McIntosh - Mistake ♪
*I wanted to choose fun songs from my high school days :)

My Rating
5/5 stars
My thoughts

So you're feeling shitty: one of your friends deliberately didn't invite you to the biggest party of the year because she called dibs on this cute guy at school and you hooked up with him, but, I mean, you know he wasn't into her.

You realise that everyone has someone else: dad has a new girlfriend, mum is on a hot date, your friends are at said party, the cute guy won't call you back and even grandpa has a social life! You're sitting alone in your room, having just smashed out a lonely dinner-for-one. What do you do? If you're MC, you get MAD AS HELL.

I'll admit that going into this book I was slightly unsure whether I would enjoy this book as much as other people seem to have enjoyed it. The title itself, My Life as a Hashtag, seemed to promise that social media would be heavily involved, and I was worried it might have read a little bit young, or immature. Those uncertainties were appeased by the end of the first chapter - heck, even by the end of the prologue I was hooked! While I am slightly ashamed to admit that this is my first Gabrielle Williams book (and will certainly not be the last), I am also a bit glad because I came into it not expecting much, so needless to say my expectations were met a hundred times over! Even from the prologue, her writing was crisp and purposeful, everything included in the story seemed to have been carefully plotted in so that we would take note and realise the significance of every single moment.

My Life as a Hashtag follows MC, a 16-year-old girl living in Melbourne, Australia, as she deals with the many big changes that are going on in her life. Her parents have separated, and when dad moves out a big hole is left in the family home; mum is trawling through Tinder and just generally not coping; and her big brother Harley is hardly ever home anymore. And then a massive rift emerges between her and a close friend in their friendship circle at school - all over a stupid boy.

I like that the general plot is simple, but it's in the little things that I found this to be an immensely enjoyable and absorbing read. Wilder, MC's friend Yumi's brother, is studying film - when MC and Harley visit, he's watching some movie or other from the Top One Hundred Movies of All Time, and there's a bit of commentary on a couple of movies. The banter and dialogue are witty and entertaining. I also like how little school actually plays a part in this book, like I don't think we see MC do homework or talk about it once? But there are lots of parties going on!

MC is a sympathetic character that I think many readers will be able to identify with. This book is written in first person narrative so we're in her head for its entirety, but Williams actually makes you care for her, and her actions, especially in the heat of the moment, seem completely justified. I can't say that I loved her, but I definitely cared about her and was upset that she was in such a terrible situation. I feel like she was a realistic and flawed character; it was not hard to believe that a girl would act the way that she did in those circumstances. In the current generation, social media is everywhere, and when you get mad you can lash out in a very public manner. Who can say they have never posted something that they wish they hadn't?

I also liked most of the other characters - Williams has written a whole cast of really interesting characters that I wish had been even further developed. We got a whole lot of great banter and dialogue, and I like that some of their parents also got a little bit of attention too. In YA, parental presence can be a little bit sparse. In the end, this is MC's story, and I would consider this to be one that doesn't require a thorough investigation into every other character's backstory. Considering the relative short length of the novel it's understandable that we don't get to know too much about the others, just little snippets here and there, and that was actually fine with me because the book's strength was in its overall message and writing style.

My Life as a Hashtag hones in on a very important message for teenagers and young adults: be careful what you post on social media. MC even said that she did not think anyone else would see it. In her own "private" corner of the Internet, she thought that her rage-induced hashtag-creating videos would for ever be for her eyes only, as well as other content on her Tumblr. I think for this reason alone, never mind the fact that I think this is just a really well written book overall, people should read this book.

My Life as a Hashtag is an entertaining, witty, cleverly written story about a teenage girl whose actions on social media lead to disastrous results. The main character is sympathetic, and it brings to light the importance of being mindful of how we are treating others over the internet.


First lines:

"Yumi's house was strictly back-door only.

The front door was for electricians, plumbers, and religious freaks rummaging in the shrubs for converts. It meant someone inside the house had to get up from what they were doing to let you in.
The back door required no more heavy lifting than an arm raised in a wave. The back door was friendlier. Which is why I always went through it.

"Them [my parents] splitting is no biggie in the scheme of things. Terrorists still blow up random public spaces. People off their heads on ice still attack whoever they've decided has looked at them funny. The globe is still warming like a pot of water on the stove.

A mum and a dad splitting up is microscopic. A speck on a speck of a speck. That's as much as it matters.
Except in our speck of a house, on our speck of a street in our speck of a suburb, the split felt nuclear-bomb-ish. One atom's nucleus splitting into two unbalanced nuclei - me, Mum and Harley one fragment; Dad the other.
Explosions all round. (14)
"I started running. As hard and as fast as I could.

I stumbled and fell. The heels of my palms were grazed and bloodied, gravel stuck there like it had been velcroed in. I was crying more tears than I'd even known were in my body, more tears than there were volumes of blood in my veins. I couldn't even imagine how one person could have so many tears in them, but they kept coming, more and more and more and more, like something out of Alice in Wonderland but without the trippy Cheshire Cat element. (234)
"...I realised that was the problem. I'd always felt like I could vent whenever I wanted to. But maybe that wasn't right. Maybe I didn't have to tell everyone every single thing that was rotating inside my head - just the important stuff. Maybe I could take that sarcastic comment or the bitchy remark that was clanging against my brain, and instead of venting on the internet, I could put it in a box and lock the box, then take the box out of my head and put it in a cupboard, and shut the cupboard and not open it again until the bitchy comment had shrivelled up into nothing. (269)


AUSTRALIA: A&R | Booktopia | Boomerang Books | Fishpond

INTERNATIONAL: The Book Depository

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Related Posts with Thumbnails