Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Girl Online On Tour

I've been eagerly awaiting the day I completely finished this book, solely so I could post a review of it for you guys! Is it a little sad that I felt almost more excitement for writing this post then for the end of the book itself? Regardless of my weird sense of priorities, it doesn't change the fact that this book was fantastic from beginning to end, and reading it made me feel like I was curled up on the couch with my best friend after a hard day, where we're eating sugar cookies and drinking hot apple cider and watching fun things on TV that make us feel comforted and happy.

I did both read and review Zoella's first young adult book in this series, titled Girl Online, and one of the main reasons that I appreciated it so much was not because of the book's author, and that I would blindly love anything created by her (which hopefully is not completely true XP). The reason that it resonated with me so well was because it dealt with anxiety in a realistic and understanding manner. Because the author herself suffers from social anxiety and panic attacks, she made sure that the main character, Penny Porter, managed and experienced her anxiety and panic in a believable way - nothing melodramatic or idiotic to be had. That realistic portrayal continues with the newest installment of the series, Girl Online On Tour. The premise for this book is that time has shifted from January to June and Penny is getting ready to join her rock-God boyfriend on his European tour - Italy, Paris, Berlin, the works! - playing with his band as the opening act for this bigger rock group called The Sketch.

In the second installment of this series, Penny has plenty of things to deal with in her life, only some of which are related to the tour - she has a year left of high school, and she's not quite sure yet what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Since the media fiasco of the previous winter, Penny has kept her blog posts private for only a handful of people to read, and she doesn't yet feel brave enough to exhibit her photos to the public. When it comes to the music tour, Penny will have to deal with plane trips, being on a tour bus, countless hotels, an online stalker, crazy fans, not-so-nice band mates, and her own anxiety while trying to see her boyfriend Noah during what little free time he has while on tour.

This book works to deliver a very powerful message, one that might be common-place in after-school specials and on motivational images we'll see on our Facebook and Instagram feeds, but it's one that needs to be repeated until it completely sinks in to the mind of each person on this planet. The message is this: Don't define yourself through somebody else. Hanging around with a significant other or a sibling or a best friend and tagging along while they live their dream isn't the same thing as pursuing your own. You need to go out there and make your own success in the world, even if that's scary or nerve-wracking or even panic-enducing. You'll never know unless you put yourself out there and give it everything you have.

Going back to the topic of anxiety for another moment, there was one passage close to the end of the novel that caught my attention, something that resonated with me on a personal level, and I felt the need to share it with all of you, so here it is:
"I know that anxiety is a part of my life, and maybe in time I can change that, but for now I want to live a full life. I have anxiety, but it's not who I am." - from Girl Online On Tour
Have there ever been truer words? It's a simple enough sentiment, but for anybody battling with mental illness, especially those involving anxiety of any kind, it is one of the hardest things to come to grips with anxiety as a part of who you are as a person and not as something you want to fix about yourself. The hardest thing for me has been on not letting myself be limited by my diagnoses, and to not let it hold me back from achieving my goals and living my dream. It's a constant battle, and I know Zoella is somebody that understands that struggle too, and she's someone who has created a relatable character in the form of Penny Porter from her Girl Online series. I sincerely hope there will be another installment, and I can't wait to read it :)

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