My life as a hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

cover image Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760113681
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Mobile phones, Social media, Depression. Gabrielle Williams writes her stories with an air of authority, getting into the mind set of teens perfectly, reflecting their language and mores with alacrity, acting as a mirror to their deeds. In this cautionary tale, we follow the exploits of MC and her friends as they dip in and out of each others' lives, sharing, confiding, using social media with skill. But there are hiccups in their world. MC lusts after Jed, Anouk's boyfriend, and one night at the pool, they skinny dip. MC and Anouk joke about, while Jed hesitates. Eventually Anouk walks away but not before MC and Jed jump in together, leaving her out of the equation. As a result, Anouk snubs MC and does not include her in the round of invites to her party. MC vents on her phone, but it is so embedded no one will ever see it. But they do.
All mobile phone users will recognise the ease with which each of the characters in the story use their phones, and be unsurprised when a series of events happen which cause MC's data to be broadcast to all her friends. The results are devastating.
The cautionary tale hits home as private thoughts go viral, MC is ostracised by one and all, and slips into depression.
With her parents' marriage breakup there seems to be no one to talk to, she is alone.
Rejection means no one speaks to her, phone calls are left unanswered, parents call for her suspension and then expulsion from school. At home she just wants to hide from everyone, and takes out her frustration on her separated parents. Surprisingly, her father's new girlfriends is supportive and tries to include her in their lives, but she is unreceptive, but a premature birth helps to bind them together.
This is a wholly believable scenario, one which parents and teachers warn of every day, with many sad stories aired in the media. This cautionary tale ends a little more happily that Kate McCaffrey's recent tale Saving Jazz, but both books serve offer a realistic look at the lives of young people today.
Fran Knight