Read A Girl's Life Online Online

Authors: Katherine Tarbox

A Girl's Life Online

Table of Contents
Praise for
A Girl's Life Online
“Part autobiography, part cautionary tale about what can happen when an innocent online chat gets out of control.”
Boston Herald
“Strong . . . and articulate, Tarbox evokes pity and admiration with her heartfelt account of a precocious girl who was deceived and then betrayed.”
Publishers Weekly
“Tarbox shares her account of the events leading up to the incident that made her the first ‘unnamed minor' to test a federal law enacted to protect kids from online sexual predators.”
USA Today
“This is a story every parent should read, a cautionary tale about the importance of love and, more important, vigilance.”
The Arizona Republic
“In Katie's guileless prose, in her ingenuous self-revelation, we hear a child's voice telling a child's story.
And we are reminded, abruptly, and with startling clarity, why pedophilia is so heinous—and so easy—a crime . . . especially on the Net.”
KATHERINE TARBOX was selected to attend Bread Loaf's prestigious weekend for young writers and has served as a senatorial page in Washington, D.C. Her book,
A Girl's Life Online,
was nominated for a 2001 Best Books for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Her website is
. Ms. Tarbox lives with her family in Connecticut.
The publishers wish to make clear that the author of
A Girl's Life Online
and the events described in
A Girl's Life Online
have no connection whatsoever with the website found at domain name address
, or with the e-mail address [email protected]
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
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(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
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New Delhi - 110 017, India
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
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Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a
Dutton edition.
First Plume Printing (
), June 2001
First Plume Printing (
A Girl's Life Online
), September 2004
Copyright © Katherine Tarbox, 2000
All rights reserved
Previously published under the title
The Library of Congress has catalogued the Dutton edition as follows:
Tarbox, Katherine.
: my story / Katherine Tarbox.
196 p. 22 cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-11911-2
1. Tarbox, Katherine. 2. Internet and teenagers—Connecticut—New Canaan—
Case studies. 3. Teenage girls—Connecticut—New Canaan—Biography.
4. Sexually abused teenagers—Connecticut—New Canaan—Biography. I. Title.
HQ799.2.I5 T37 2000
[B] 99-087503
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

To my mother, Andrea Tarbox
For her wisdom, courage, strength, and love
Me, Before
can't tell you what all thirteen-year-old girls are like, but I can tell you what I was like. Of course, this was all before.
I was in the eighth grade, and for the first time I was really obsessed with my appearance, my status, with fitting in. This is understandable, if you consider that I was growing up in America, and in New Canaan, Connecticut. New Canaan is the richest town in the richest state in the country. The moms all drive Suburbans and the dads all take the train to the city. And by the time they are ten years old, the kids in New Canaan know that the highest-grade BMW is not as nice as the best Mercedes. They know that you should never be seen cutting your own lawn, and that embossed stationery is far superior to lithographed.
On the surface, everyone and everything in New Canaan is tasteful. We don't have any fast-food restaurants or neon signs because the town doesn't allow them. The houses are all the same—colonial, wood siding (never vinyl), two stories. In general people are friendly and pleasant, and it seems like the most serious thing that ever happens in New Canaan is the cancellation of a ladies' tennis match.
I have a love-hate relationship with the town of New Canaan. I love it because it is beautiful. The best of everything is available, from chocolate to people, but after everything that happened to me when I was thirteen I began to think a little differently about what the place had taught me about myself and about life.
The first thing you notice about the people in my town is that almost all of them are good-looking. In fact, being pretty is so common in New Canaan that the only people who stand out, the ones other people point at and talk about, are the average-looking ones.
Since I was very little, I have been confused about what beauty is and what it means. At thirteen I accepted the image of beauty I saw on the covers of fashion magazines. I thought the Calvin Klein models inside were beautiful. I thought ultra-thinness was beautiful. Beauty was painful. And it was very expensive.
I am sure that I started thinking this way when I was thirteen, because that was the first year I noticed that most of the really bright and successful people I met also happened to be beautiful. I wondered which came first, the beauty or the success. Perhaps their looks accelerated their success, or because they were successful they had the money to invest in their appearance. No matter what the cause, you can see that beauty equals success right on TV. And I don't just mean actors. Even the people who do the news on TV are attractive. Think of Diane Sawyer or Stone Phillips.

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