This has spoilers. If you want to read with the spoilers hidden, go to my Goodreads version. (You don’t have to be a member to read it.)

Two weeks into my 2018 Reading Challenge half of January’s books changed, but I got through all four and loved my surprise additions. (No DNFing around here.) I also love Gabrielle Williams’ books, so I’ve been wanting to read My Life as a Hashtag (Allen and Unwin, 2017) for a year. It only took a reading challenge to make it happen.

“I was going to have the worst night of my life, and they should be there for it. That was what friends did for each other.”

The prompt of supportive friends nailed My Life as a Hashtag, except multiple times during my read I wondered if MC and her friends were really all that supportive. There’s the meltdown of one friendship and domino unfriending from many others.

“I felt like I’d been angry for months now and suddenly I realised that I didn’t need to be. Everyone had shit times. It was just life.”

Sometimes friendships can be surprisingly solid, despite the depths to which MC’s life sinks. More than once I wondered how she could possibly overcome her trials.

“Little did I know that today was only the start of everything getting very, very much worse.”

And what caused all this angst? A boy – they’re annoying like. But he’s so hot, why wouldn’t Anouk dibs him. And MC have all that trouble ignoring her dibs. Anyway, you can’t dibs a boy – he was the one flirting with MC.

“I felt, in that moment, as if I had captured Jed inside the mechanics of my phone. His voice, his dog, his stupidness, all there for eternity, for whenever I wanted to listen to him.”

Spoiler alert: Jed is a monumental douche. Even having a dog doesn’t redeem him.

“But I haven’t finished laughing yet.”

Gabrielle Williams knows how to do comedy and I definitely haven’t stopped laughing yet. Then things went from funny to farcical. The media outside her house? No one died – did they? Must have been the slowest news day the world has ever seen. I wondered if Williams had taken things too far. Then I remembered the crazy coincidences and farce of The Guy, the Girl, the Artist & his Ex. Part of those incredulous occurances were factual, and I loved it. So I guess I can forgive the journalists camping out. Maybe no paintings had been stolen from the National Gallery that day.

“All these people pay lip-service to the fact that the human brain isn’t fully developed until you’re in your mid-twenties, but as soon as a teenager steps out of line, does something regrettable, everyone comes down on them like a ton of bricks.”

A GR reviewer I follow feels the book is too preachy about how bad the internet is. That’s pretty much the total plot of Hashtag, and there’s definitely some preaching going on. I don’t think that detracts from the story, maybe only because I’m old.

Reading My Life as a Hashtag after Take Three Girls is an interesting comparison of how different authors weave their story around cyberbullying. Both books feature the good that IRL friends can do to help in the aftermath. (And a whole lot of IRL friend hate in My Life as a Hashtag.)

My Life as a Hashtag lays bare misconceptions about online interaction.

“They’d been dragged out of the woods of millions of gig of data and thrown onto the scrap heap. Set fire to. All the evidence disposed of.”

I regularly decide after putting something online, maybe not and I delete it. Whether it’a photo, a snarky tweet to a celebrity, or a rant against your friends. It seems like it’s gone forever, but how many people saw it between posting and deleting? And how many people took a screen-shot? MC discovers the hard way.

“I wanted to get away from myself, but everywhere I looked, there I was.”

Oh yeah, and there’s skating. When I read Yumi was practising her tre flips, I wondered if I was in the middle of the greatest book ever written.

But when MC describes a tre flip, she could be describing a kickflip. Of course, MC doesn’t skate and would have a hard time describing a tre flip. Emile and Yumi know what they’re doing, so I guess Williams did her research. This scene led to me watching half an hour of tre flips and hardflips on Youtube – time well spent.

And that cover by Debra Billson is everything. Anouk’s wolf hat! I want to know how much IG paid for the promo.