Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media. Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least, to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet.
But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives a major backlash.
To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir Trail. Mari and her late cousin Bri were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.
With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back from to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.
Everything in Mari's life is for show. She's a popular social media presence, and her fans love her Instagram and YouTube posts whether they're inspirational quotes, yoga shots, or charming moments with her boyfriend, another social media star. The truth is, he's not really her boyfriend, and Mari is incredibly lonely. Turning 18 reminds her of Bri, the cousin she grew up with, and how they'd grown apart before Bri's death from a hiking accident. When Mari gets real about her sadness on YouTube, her star falls, and she decides to follow Bri's old plan to walk the John Muir Trail all 200-plus miles through the Sierra Nevada mountains. It's not a hike for neophytes, but Mari has Bri's pack, provisions, itinerary, even her boots, and she soon makes friends on the trail. The telling is at times oversimplified with Mari's troubles chalked up to her parents' divorce and Bri idealized but Kirby (Moonglass) skillfully evokes the extreme beauty and challenges of the hike and the importance of making friends who like you even when you're dirty, tired, and honest. Ages 14 up.