What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is lots of teen drinking, "shagging" references (British term for sex), and in-school bullying incidents, including one that results in a girl having her hair cut by the bullies. There are also issues with anorexia (one girl encourages another to access a pro-anorexia Web site) and parent/child fights. Swearing is mostly in Web language, such as "WTF."
What's the story?
Sarah has a brand new laptop -- a divorce-guilt gift from her dad -- and a happiness goal. She's given herself a deadline to do the things that she thinks will make her happy including getting skinny, getting a boyfriend, being nicer to her parents and her father's fiance, and writing openly and honestly about her life on her new ULife blog. Sarah runs into plenty of trouble along the way including massive fights with friends, gaining and losing a boyfriend, falling out with her parents, and eating herself out of being skinny. And eventually, Sarah begins to realize that putting it all out there on her blog can create new problems.
Is it any good?
In this look at the online world written with plenty of Web/text/IM slang, many adults will scratch their heads while teens will identify with the rapid-fire blogging lifestyle that feels as if the world isn't real until you blog about it. The main character, Sarah, is self-absorbed and really angsty a lot of the time, which can get a little old, but she experiences a nice evolution and the end's plot twist will surprise many.
What readers will really like about the book is its conversational blogging style and humor. In the middle of blowing off some steam via her blog, Sarah is prompted by a Web survey to look under her bed and report her findings. The contents are both amusing and so utterly teen girl, it's hilarious: empty chocolate wrappers and old diaries that are full of earlier, younger angst, the likes of which completely embarrass Sarah with the slight irony that in time, her blog will evoke the same feelings.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about protecting personal information when using online social networking sites. What problems did Sarah encounter by revealing personal information online? Have you ever revealed too much online?
Families can also talk about why online communication is no substitute for in-person communication. How do you think things would have turned out if Sarah had gone to her friend about her eating disorder instead of posting it online? What issues could have Sarah avoided had talked to her parents more? Do you have things you wish you could talk to your parents about?