Books & Literature

Book Review: Selfie, by Allayne L. Webster

YA: Selfie is an engaging and very real exploration of social media and the trickiness of separating what’s real from the glossiness of the online world. It’s a tender story about friendship and staying true to yourself.

A timely story about the pitfalls of social media and friendships which could create lots of discussion with young people but also in families.

Feature image credit: Text Publishing

South Australian author Allayne L. Webster has written over 10 novels, mostly young adult fiction. Many have been shortlisted for awards. She has been published internationally.

Selfie is the story of Tully, a young girl in Year Eight, who has a best friend named Kira. Tully lives with her older brother Luke and step-mum Michelle. Her real mum has left and her dad works in Sydney so Michelle is now her primary carer.

But when Instagram-famous Dene comes to the school and asks Tully to be her best friend, how could she refuse? Dene has had followers since before she was born, when her mum blogged about her pregnancy. Since then, her 1.5 million followers follow her every move as she endorses products and lives her life in the public space.

Selfie is a story that feels honest. The voice of Tully is relatable and it would definitely resonate with many young people who struggle with social media and its pitfalls. All the characters have depth and feel like real people who are just living life as best as they can. As readers, we feel Tully’s pain as she struggles with trying to maintain a friendship where she has no power. The story is well paced and very easy to read. Even though there is lots of angst, it continues to move forward.

Webster explores relationships and what a real friendship actually looks like. Is it okay to be someone we are not just to make friends or do we need to be true to ourselves?  But Selfie is also about the perils of social media: its pitfalls, dangers, and complexities. Can we believe something just because it is on the internet?  Where are the boundaries on social media, for both parents and their children?  The story is tied together with families and all their messiness.

Selfie would make a good discussion book in a high school setting. Many young adults will recognise behaviours in both themselves and others, whether they are Dene or Tully, a combination of both, or change depending on a particular friendship. It may make them consider that what we do impacts others, and it may make some people uncomfortable as they recognise their own behaviour. It also may be helpful for older readers to understand this new world our young people are part of, but also remind them how difficult it was to navigate life as a young student, even before social media.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Text Publishing
Released: April 2023
RRP: $19.99

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