* photo courtesy of penguin books *
Any big blog fans out there will undoubtedly have heard of Zoella at some point in the last few months, but for those of you who aren’t quite so familiar, allow me to explain very quickly. Zoella – whose real name is Zoe Sugg – is a YouTuber and blogger who has achieved some seriously epic things over the past year, from reaching the 6 million subscriber mark to launching a range of pamper products to publishing her debut novel.
And as so often happens when you find yourself being talked about by more and more people, some of that attention starts to drift away from the positive and happy and becomes really quite negative instead.
Take, for example, Zoe’s recently-released novel, Girl Online. While girls and boys around the world queued up for hours, woke up at the crack of dawn to greet the postman and begged, pleaded and cajoled anyone who might be able to get them a copy of Zoe’s debut tome, there are some who haven’t shared quite the same excitement.
Far be it from me to criticise other people’s opinions; if you aren’t a big beauty blogger/YouTuber fan, and if you aren’t a dedicated follower of Zoe’s videos and blogposts, that’s fine, but I just wanted to take a quick tick to throw my two cents out there about her book, which I finished reading earlier this week.
Now I won’t lie to you, it’s not the most complex and interesting novel ever written, but rather a sweet and heartwarming tale about a young teenage girl trying to find her place in the world, a struggle I think many of us can relate to? But while the plotline is delightful, the characters pretty likeable and the whole book really rather enjoyable, it’s not really those aspects of the novel which I’m most excited about.
What has struck me more than anything while watching the frenzied excitement about the book’s publication date on Twitter and Instagram is the fact that it has motivated so many young people to get excited about a book. Yes, it might not be Charles Dickens or Jane Austen and no, it’s probably not going to be picking up a Booker Prize any time soon, but in my opinion, any novel which encourages kids to take a step away from the computer and pick up an actual physical book is a great thing.
And beyond that, the whole story behind the book – Zoe’s meteoric rise to YouTube stardom – is one that I think is good for kids to see. Because the truth is, whether or not you agree with what Zoe does or stands for in terms of her bubbly beauty and lifestyle videos (just to be clear, I am a fan and, having met her a couple of times, think she is a splendid human), to see someone so young achieving so much is something to be marvelled at, surely.
Who wouldn’t want their children to see someone taking control of their life at such a young age and making the most out of every opportunity they are given, and, being courteous and lovely to everyone they meet along the way? I know the whole thing makes me feel more motivated to get my butt in gear and I’m a few years older than Zoe!
So whether you choose to read it or not, whether you think it’s the best thing since sliced bread or a book best kept for a beach-based holiday, I think it’s worth taking a second to think about everything else the book means to those young people who are reading it. And some of us older people too…