A Girl's Life Online
by Katherine Tarbox
A girl’s Life Online is a short autobiography about Katherine Tarbox and her online relationship with the man she thought to be named “Mark”. The beginning starts off with demonstrating her low self-esteem and family issues, which would lead to her being easily manipulated later. She soon gets on the Internet and begins speaking with an older man whom she believed to be 23. Things got serious and Katie stated to believe that she was in love. He convinces her to meet with him in Texas but when they do she learns that he is not all that she thought he was and he assaults her. Her mother finds her and the police get involved. At first Katie keeps the events a secret but the guilt gets to her and she tells her mom about the assault. Eventually they decide to press charges. Throughout the case Katie’s struggles with guilt and victim blaming from other people. Some people even take the side of Frank (Mark), the pedophile. In the end Frank pleads guilty and goes to jail. Katie starts to get help from a counselor and starts to find supportive friends. She is now a public speaker about staying safe online and the importance of making young girls feel important and not like objects.
One of the main purposes for writing this book that the author had was to show how important staying safe on the internet is. The writer made a lot of emphasis on the difference between Mark online and Frank in real life. When they first meet she even states "This isn't what I expected at all. We were such good friends -more than friends- on the internet. No one had ever made me feel safer, more at ease. But here, in his presence, I was anxious and confused" (92). The author does this to show how people can pretend to be anyone on the internet and it is dangerous to believe them. In the end the writer suggests "a list of internet sites that can be beneficial in helping to make the internet a safe place" (193) which points to her purpose for writing.
One of the reasons that Katie was so susceptible to manipulation is that she had such low self esteem. In the beginning of the novel the author describes how she viewed herself: "But back there in the land of thirteen, I could see that I wasn't the airbrushed Calvin Klein ad. I wasn't even close. And since that was beauty, I was the opposite" (4). At the end the author takes time to advocate for making young girls see their potential. The author says to "help her see her own value. Too many girls seem willing to believe that their worth is determined by other people. The internet has created a new avenue for the predators who would exploit this insecurity" (189).