I want to start this review by saying that I am very excited. This is the first time that I was sent a book to review! So thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me My Life As A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams, you can find it on their site here. So if you couldn’t tell already, I am pretty excited about this milestone for Just A Bookish Babe – my first review book! So without further ado, let’s review!
From the highly acclaimed author of The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex comes this funny, heartfelt novel about rage, regret and the pitfalls of life in the digital age. My Life As A Hashtag is about rage, regret and the pitfalls of life in the digital age. Darkly funny, it also explores the grey areas of teenage life. What constitutes bullying? If someone reacts to being bullied, does that also make them a bully?
‘I’d been warned – in French, no less. By a tram-riding, mermaid-swaying, wolf-eaten, peace-sign flipping friend. I knew she wouldn’t be happy if I stayed out here by the pool, with Jed’s nail tracing the length of my neck. But I didn’t want to go inside. I didn’t want another drink. I wanted to stay out here and see what would happen.’ What’s a girl to do when her parents have split up; her mum’s trawling Tinder; and one of her best friends has decided not to invite her to the biggest party of the year, which she then has to watch unfold on everyone else’s social media? If you’re a girl called MC, you get mad as hell, that’s what you do. But what begins as one girl’s private, no-holds-barred rant soon snowballs in the most public way possible.
At the beginning of this book, I was almost distracted from the story line by how Australian everything was. Not like I didn’t know, I just really appreciated that MC had a cup of Milo for afternoon tea and said that the only thing in the pantry was Pizza Shapes (although, who doesn’t like pizza shapes?). All the nicknames were the best. The Annick/Anouk situation started by a substitute teacher? So relatable! The exact same thing happened to one of my friends in Year 11.
Our main character, MC, is only 15. It’s probably because of this that I thought the way she reacted to the jokes and arguments with her friends were a bit annoying. I was never annoyed at MC, I was annoyed at 15 year old me for doing the same thing in high school. Just like MC, I didn’t know how to react in these new situations or understand that other people would react differently.
I don’t think I’ve read a book that was this close to my high school days. Who hasn’t felt like a friend’s claim on a boy or girl was outdated or unreasonable? We’ve all fought over liking the same people. Hell, I’ve even blocked/unfriended/unfollowed ‘friends’. Maintaining friendships as teenagers is hard enough without the added pressure of social media.
Closer to the beginning of the book, when MC’s argument with a friend was escalating, it was so familiar. I’ve been in a similar situation with a friend, which only made MC’s story more realistic for me. As she navigated her way through the high school and family drama, while figuring out how to actually handle it, she grew so much.
This is truly a book for anyone who wished they never pressed send. And doesn’t that pretty much apply to us all? If you ever sent a text you shouldn’t have or maybe even posted something passive aggressive on social media, this is the book for you. I definitely recommend this one, and I’m off to read the rest of Gabrielle Williams books now!