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Katie.com: My Story

Katie.com: My Story

4.2 32
by Katherine Tarbox

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Katherine Tarbox was thirteen when she met twenty-three-year-old "Mark" in an online chat room. A top student and nationally ranked swimmer attending an elite school in an affluent Connecticut town, Katie was also a lonely and self-conscious eighth-grader who craved the attention her workaholic parents couldn't give her. "Mark" seemed to understand her; he told her


Katherine Tarbox was thirteen when she met twenty-three-year-old "Mark" in an online chat room. A top student and nationally ranked swimmer attending an elite school in an affluent Connecticut town, Katie was also a lonely and self-conscious eighth-grader who craved the attention her workaholic parents couldn't give her. "Mark" seemed to understand her; he told her she was smart and wonderful. When they set a date to finally meet while Katie was in Texas for a swim competition, she walked into a hotel room and discovered who -- and what -- her cyber soul mate really was.

In Katie.com, Tarbox, now eighteen, tells her story -- a frightening and eyeopening tale of one teenager's descent into the seductive world of the Internet. Tarbox's harrowing experience with her online boyfriend would affect her life for years to come and result in her becoming the first "unnamed minor" to test a federal law enacted to protect kids from online sexual predators.

In a time when a new generation is growing up online, Tarbox's memoir offers a rare and candid look at what it's like to be a girl in the Internet Age.

Editorial Reviews


Nowadays people are clued into the fact that there are less-than-desirable folks lurking around in Internet chat rooms. More than a few front-page tabloid tales have shed light on the existence of chat-room boyfriends and girlfriends who, in person, are not at all who they claim to be in cyberspace.

Unfortunately, five years ago, when AOL was still rather new and entering a chat room was far from being considered an orthodox activity, people weren't so wise. And five years ago Katherine Tarbox was your average clothing- and weight-obsessed 13-year-old girl living a fairly sheltered life in New Canaan, Connecticut. In her book, Katie.com, Tarbox describes New Canaan as a cookie-cutter wealthy town filled with cookie-cutter wealthy people. Tarbox's mother worked too hard. Her stepfather spoke to her too little. Tarbox filled her days with school, choir, and the swim team. Some of her friends had already begun dating boys. But not Tarbox. Not until her older sister came home from boarding school with a laptop computer and introduced Katie to America Online.

On AOL, Katie found her way into a teen chat room. There, she met a man, Mark, whom she grew to love. Mark spoke to Katie as though she were an adult. He listened to her problems. He was available to her at times when her busy family was not. Mark became Katie's confidant. This relationship was her private, special thing. She told no one about Mark, not even her friends. Mark told her he was 23 and living in California. Katie worried about their age difference, but Mark assured her they had a real connection. Besides, he wrote her, she was mature. The relationship progressed. They both sought each other out, happily searching for each other in chat rooms and looking forward to almost daily emails. They even spoke on the phone.

Eventually, Mark decided they should meet in person. He asked Katie to fly to California. She said no. He asked if he could come visit her in Connecticut. Katie said no again. Soon Mark asked if he could meet her at a hotel in Texas, where Katie was to attend a swim meet with her team. Katie, excited and nervous, agreed. Mark bought a ticket. Finally Katie told her best friend about Mark. Her response wasn't positive; she was alarmed.

Once in Texas, Katie, now 14, went to Mark's hotel room. She didn't like his looks or his shoes. He looked old. Katie reminded herself that she loved Mark, even when he tried repeatedly -- despite her protests -- to touch her sexually. Katie's mother, also in Texas as a swim-team chaperon, eventually arrived and pounded on the hotel room door. She had been alerted by Katie's best friend and had security guards and police officers with her. It turned out that "Mark" wasn't Mark at all. He was Francis John Kufrovich, age 41.

Katie.com is far more real than any front-page tabloid tale of Internet deception. Katherine Tarbox, now 17, bravely spills her guts in these pages, carefully outlining the events leading up to her meeting with Mark in Texas. She even admits to feeling guilty, describing at length what she feels responsible for, even though she was just a young girl when she met a man in a chat room. But Tarbox doesn't end her memoir with the Texas meeting. She writes about the ensuing depression, anger, and shame. Katie's parents, severely disappointed in her, pressed charges against Mark, and Katie had to spend hours with the police and the FBI. She felt ostracized, ashamed, gossiped about. She went through many therapists and had to work hard to regain her family's trust.

Katie.com is the story of Tarbox's chat-room romance gone very wrong, but it is also just a story of a teenage girl. Tarbox's capacity to be brutally honest is considerable. Her words provide tremendous insight into the vulnerability and insecurity of young adults, which makes Katie.com a compelling tale to read for parents and teenagers alike.

—Alexandra Zissu

Time Magazine
An impressive work that reveals the tormented psyche of a young teen who seemed to have it all.
Moving and insightful ... a page-turner... . Read it, tell your mom to read it, tell your best friend to read it, and then read it again.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1995, first-time author Tarbox was leading an upper-middle-class life of quiet desperation. At age 13, she rarely saw her workaholic mother, who seemed only to care about her daughter's swim-team performance, and got on poorly with her stepfather. Overscheduled, ignored and less than perfectly attractive, she felt invisible in her wealthy Connecticut town. Now, at age 17, she evocatively describes how her first romance permanently altered her life. She first encountered Mark in an early AOL chatroom. While his stated age (23) gave her pause, he seemed the perfect boyfriend: he called her every night, listened to her opinions and encouraged her to relax. When he wanted to meet her at a swim meet in Texas, she agreed--but Mark turned out to be a middle-age pedophile named Frank, who molested her in a hotel room. When her family pressed charges (eventually making her the first person to prosecute an Internet pedophile), her entire town found out about it and, according to Tarbox, treated her like a whore or a mental patient. Her mother was furious with her, her stepfather told her she had ruined Frank's life and other kids avoided her. Eventually, Tarbox left for boarding school and began to write. While she is angry with Frank, she rather disturbingly assumes a great deal of the blame, believing that, at age 13, she should have known better than to engage in the relationship. And while her family appears to have been quite cruel, she feels she betrayed them by causing them social humiliation. Strong, articulate and conservative, Tarbox evokes pity and admiration with her heartfelt account of a precocious girl who was deceived and then betrayed. 10-city author tour. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
The Internet has become an integral part of young adults' lives, with teens meeting via chat rooms. The hunky young guy a teenage girl thinks she is corresponding with might well be a middle-aged pedophile, however, as was the case for thirteen-year-old Katie Tarbox. Now seventeen, Katie shares her online and real-life encounters with an Internet stalker. Mark, the young man of Katie's dreams, responds to the emotional needs her career-driven mother and distant stepfather are ignoring. Stressed out by her inability to be the swimmer she thinks her family wants her to be, Katie spends more and more time online with Mark. The online chats escalate to telephone conversations. Their relationship takes the next step when Katie agrees to meet Mark in a Texas hotel room while she is at a swim meet. Mark turns out to be a forty-three-year-old pedophile who molests her. As many abuse victims do, Katie blames herself, thinking that a thirteen-year-old should have known better. Her parents' reaction and that of her swim team and schoolmates reinforces her misconception. Katie questions her feelings about her stalker until she researches pedophilia for a school project, giving her a better understanding of how a young victim responds. In writing Katie.com, Tarbox provides a courageous discussion of a teen's encounter with the Internet stalker who became the first pedophile to be successfully prosecuted under the new Internet law. Every young adult who visits Internet chat rooms needs to read Katie's story to help him or her understand just how dangerous online encounters can be. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Penguin, 196p, $19.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Ruth Cox

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

School Library Journal
YA-In 1995, the author was a nationally ranked swimmer, an honor student at classy New Canaan (CT) High School, a concert pianist, and financially secure. While the 13-year-old had every conceivable material thing, she was sorely in need of the intangibles. Her workaholic mother, her ineffectual stepfather, her absent or jealous siblings, her fair-weather friends, and her estranged biological father were incapable of or uninterested in talking to her. She found solace in an Internet chat room and met "Mark," who said he was a 23-year-old college student and not only listened to her but also encouraged her to have more faith in herself. In spite of her own misgivings, she developed a relationship with him, which culminated in a groping episode in a Dallas hotel room during a swim meet. Concerned adults soon intervened, and she discovered that Mark was in fact over 40 and had a criminal record. Katie became the first youngster to prosecute an adult pedophile for using the Internet and was pulled along unwillingly into the justice system and burdened by unreasonable feelings of guilt and shame. While sometimes immature, this 18-year-old author's memoir captures much of the agony of any adolescent concerned about fitting in. This compelling and honestly written read paints a vivid picture of the angst-ridden world of young teens.-Susan H. Woodcock, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Margaret Wertheim
The subtitle says it all; what is extraordinary about this poignat, if not strictly frightening, story is that it was written by the child in question...The moral of the story, as Katie is wise enough to see, is not for parents to deny children access to the Internet, but to spend more times with them.
Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Me, Before

* * *

I 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 meabout 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.

    In New Canaan, there were plenty of beautiful rich people walking the streets as living examples of success. It seemed like all the women were blonde and slim with perfect skin and perfect hair. Their children were pretty, too, and a lot of effort went into making sure of this. I was always surprised when I met a kid with a less-than-perfect smile who didn't have braces. Everyone in New Canaan had to have impeccable teeth to go with their perfect hair and unblemished skin.

    I managed to meet the size-ten weight limit, but I knew I fell short of most of New Canaan's beauty standards. In an effort to catch up, I read every single beauty magazine I could get my hands on, certain that inside lay the secrets to a successful, happy life. I would buy at least five magazines each month, usually Marie Claire, Mademoiselle, Allure, Self, and Glamour. After reading these I would then trade them to my friends in exchange for magazines I hadn't purchased. This way, I could read the whole magazine rack. Though a casual observer may think these magazines are alike, they are not. One might have one hundred suggestions on how to do your hair or how to pluck your eyebrows for proper shaping and contour. Another would offer reviews of the best tanning products. I felt like I needed every scrap of beauty information available, and I worried enough about missing something important that no magazine page was left unturned.

    There was a problem with the magazines, however. Some of the articles gave conflicting information, which led to confusion. As Glamour encouraged me to wear makeup, Mademoiselle told me that most of it is made with whale blubber, a little fact that made me sick.

    Then there was the problem of my own inner standards. Despite all of the influences around me, I also believed that for a person to be beautiful, she had to be naturally beautiful. The glow had to come from within, not out of a bottle. The trouble was, deep down, I knew I didn't possess natural beauty, and if makeup was cheating, then I was doomed to be ugly. And because of this, I was going to have limited choices in life. Now that I am a few years older, I know I am not ugly. But back there in the land of thirteen, I could see that I wasn't the airbrushed Calvin Klein ad. I wasn't even close. And since that was beauty, I was the opposite.

* * *

    Being afraid that I was not beautiful didn't prevent me from putting a lot of time and energy into my looks. I wouldn't leave the house unless my hair was blown-dry to make it perfectly straight. This took time, and since I sang in a select chorus at school—rehearsals were at 6:45 A.M.—I had to get up before dawn to do my hair. The teacher's rule was if you're late, then screw you; the door will be locked and you'll surely hear about it later. I was never late.

    Because I wasn't the most quiet person when I woke up, I usually made noise just walking the few feet from my room to the bathroom. I don't know how I did it. My mother claimed I slammed the doors, but I believe these were hyperbolic statements. (When I was thirteen, hyperbolic was one of my favorite words, and it seemed like everybody was a little hyperbolic.)

    I thought spending large amounts of time in the bathroom was frivolous. I didn't take long in the shower, and I never spent time looking at my body because I didn't like it. I kept a towel around me until I entered the water, avoiding the mirror at all costs. If this meant standing under the shower with cold water on my head for a few seconds until it got warmer, then fine. I got in there, did what I had to do, and left. I did everything to conserve time. I brushed my teeth in the shower, a trick I saw in a movie once. And if I had to shave I did it very quickly, taking a razor and running it up and down my legs. I didn't use any of those prissy shaving gels. Altogether, I spent only about a minute and a half in the shower, but believe it or not it took me a long time to learn how to tie my hair up in a towel after showering. I am still not sure if I do it right, but the way I do it works. I love my hair; I wouldn't trade it for anything. It is blonde and straight, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

* * *

    After I showered I inspected my face for blemishes. I learned in Marie Claire that the best time to pop zits is right after a shower. This is because the steam from the shower opens your pores so the pus drains easier. I couldn't stand to leave zits on my face. I never had a lot of them, though the occasional few did come along and needed proper attention. If I didn't take care of them, my mom was sure to say something, which was a lot more painful than any squeezing could ever be.

    As I was finishing up in the mirror I'd turn on the radio and then the hair dryer. I'd think about my outfit and sing along.

    I love music, almost all types. When I was little, we rode in the car singing songs by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Buddy Holly, the Temptations, and my mom's favorite, Rod Stewart. I know all the words.

    I also like some new songs. I can beat anyone at name-that-tune, even if you include opera and classical. Unfortunately I don't carry a tune very well. My mom says she would rather listen to a dying duck. My voice is really that bad. The only reason I got into all-state and the select choir was because I play the piano for some of the songs, so I'm not completely useless.

    I didn't dry my hair in front of the mirror because, like I said, I hated mirrors. I didn't put on hair spray or any styling products because I didn't want to take the risk of damaging my hair. I always wore it down, parted in the middle, cut on an angle so I'd have small wisps that hung in my face. This gave me the opportunity to play with it during the day.

    I know you may be bored hearing so much about my hair, but this is what matters when you are thirteen. Besides, my hair was the only part of my body that I liked. I trimmed it every seven weeks at a salon to ensure healthy ends. I tried hard to never have a bad hair day. If I didn't have time to blow-dry it straight, then I didn't wash it. Going out with wavy hair would have been too embarrassing.

    Once I finished with my hair I got dressed. If you were ever an eighth-grade girl, then you'd understand how much I focused on what people wear every day. I have always liked clothes, but at thirteen I was absolutely obsessed with them. Without telling anyone, I tried to set a record for wearing a different outfit every single day. I really don't think I actually made it through the whole year, but I wanted to go as long as possible. At the start of the year I planned out my clothes so I could go at least four months, maybe four and a half. I figured at that point my parents would take me shopping, and I was right.

    I had two rules about making my outfits. One involved shoes. Even though they do make the outfit, an outfit wasn't a "different" outfit just because I wore different shoes.

    Number two: I wouldn't resort to wearing anyone else's clothes, or wearing something that was very old. Even if I had never worn it. I had a teddy bear vest that I had never worn. Even so, it was old, so it was against my rules to use it to make a new outfit.

    I guess you could say my style was perfect for a middle-schooler living in Martha Stewart country. It was all J. Crew and Gap. Khakis, oxford shirts, polo shirts, sweaters tied around the neck. Solid colors only, no prints. Nothing else really passed—except for pleated skirts and argyle kneesocks. Most of my friends shared the same taste. We didn't wear hose. But we did wear jeans. I usually wore Gap special-edition jeans. My mother didn't understand that they were worth the extra ten dollars, but they were, because they came a little more washed and faded.

    Everyone I knew was just as obsessed. Two of my classmates—Sandra and Erin—planned their outfits weeks in advance. They even created an exchange system for rotating their entire wardrobes.

    Eighth grade was also the first year girls started to wear skirts and dresses to school. The girl next to me in social studies class always wore skirts when she was trying to get the attention of some guy. It was pathetic. I usually wore them only on gym days. That way I could slip my gym shorts on underneath and nobody had to see me in my underwear.

    Which reminds me, I hated my legs then, just as much as I do now. At thirteen I already had the biggest thighs in the world. They were so huge that my mom wouldn't even buy me a skirt that was above the knee.

* * *

    My whole morning routine took until 6:25. This was when I went into my mother's room and kissed her good-bye. It was usually the only time in the day when I saw her. Ever since my father left our family—I was a baby at the time—my mother has worked full-time. But when I was around eleven or twelve she really became a workaholic. Most of the time she got home so late I didn't even see her before I went to bed. She really lived at work, or for her work. Even if she was home, she was always thinking about work.

    After I kissed my mom I went downstairs to look for my stepfather, David, who drove me to school. By the time I was thirteen, David and my mother rarely ever slept in the same bed anymore. David snored too much, so he slept in the guest room. David and my mother never took vacations alone as a couple, ever. And they argued like there was no tomorrow. Despite all of this, in some strange way that I can't figure out, they loved each other.

    Like my mother, David was pretty much a workaholic. But even though he had a long commute to the city, he drove me to school early every morning so I could make chorus practice.

    I didn't much like talking to David, so these car rides consisted of me changing the radio as much as possible. I couldn't stand to listen to bad songs, so station surfing was very big with me. Occasionally David said, "Can't you just leave it alone, Katie?" It was just a five-minute ride to school but I didn't stop pressing the buttons until I found something I liked.

* * *

    Like most schools, I guess, mine was often frustrating and I felt misunderstood a lot of the time. The most alienating part of school is the way they separate you into groups, as if to say, "This girl will be a success, but this one won't." Like most kids, I never got into the program for gifted students, and it bothered me. We all knew what it meant.

    Fortunately, there was one teacher I felt close to—the choral director, Ms. Montarro. She loved students who cooperated with early-morning call, and I did. Our group was called the Choraleers. Twenty-five kids from the seventh and eighth grades met three or four mornings a week. We mostly sang cheesy stuff, but we were pretty good. We sang the National Anthem at Mets games, and we sang at the all-state convention and for Congress.

    In school, I was probably most devoted to music. Outside school, it was swimming. In fact, by the eighth grade swimming had become the major focus of my life, and as a result the New Canaan swim team—a highly competitive, nationally known club—was a big part of our family's life. My mother was very friendly with the coach and the other parents. And my younger sister, Carrie, had started swimming, too.

    I first got involved with swimming when I was a preschooler and went for lessons at the YMCA. Their system started kids out as "guppies" who wore water wings and splashed around the pool with their mothers. (I went with my nanny.) Swimming was an important safety thing in our family and my mother insisted we work through minnow, fish, flying fish, to the shark level, which was the highest, so we would all be able to handle ourselves in the water.

    By the third grade I had noticed the swim team, which also worked out at the Y, and started to think that I might like to try it. Unlike other sports, which require a lot of hand-eye coordination—more than I possess—swimming is a matter of practice and commitment, two things I could manage. When I told my parents that I was interested in joining the team, they were excited that I wanted to participate in any kind of sport.

    I began competing in the fourth grade, which meant I also started practicing many hours a week. The main feeling I had at those early practices was coldness. Swimmers move fastest through cold water, so the pool at the Y was always chilly. I was usually one of the last ones in, and I never got used to the cold.

    The team competed mainly in regional meets, but every year we qualified for some national tournaments as well. I suppose it was exciting to travel to different meets, but the most I ever saw of any of the cities we visited would be the hotel, the pool, the airport, and, if I was lucky, a restaurant. It didn't really matter if I was in California or Florida, it all seemed the same to me.

    I invested a lot of time and effort in swimming, so much that it became a big part of my identity. My parents got hooked into the swim team, too. At the pool there were always two competitions. The first was the actual swim meet. Even though we all wore swim caps and bathing suits, everyone knew each other, or at least the competition. I know I would sit there and inspect the muscles of each swimmer, how defined they were and well trained they looked. You couldn't hide any of it in a swim suit, and I had a pretty good idea about who was a serious competitor even before we got into the water.

    While the swimmers competed on the pool deck and in the water, upstairs in the bleachers the parents were competing, too. They kept track of who was swimming when and what times were needed to be able to finish where. The parents were always talking with each other, trying to figure out who had done what. They wanted to know how much extra help a particular swimmer might be getting. Who had private lessons? Who had a fitness coach?

    I always felt like my self-worth was determined by how well I placed. And I think the parents felt the same way—their status among the team parents depended on how well their child placed.

    As I improved, I became one of the swimmers that the coaches depended on for winning times. Where once it was enough to be in the top ten, gradually I was pressured to be in the top five, four, three. All the emphasis on winning made swimming less and less enjoyable. During those moments when I had doubts about staying with the team, all the work put into swimming convinced me to continue. I shoved my doubts away and thought, If I don't swim, what will I do? I'll have no life.

* * *

    When you consider the demands of swimming, choir, and school, it's obvious I didn't have a whole lot of time for friends. In fact, I had just one close friend, a girl named Karen. As far as I could tell, Karen had a perfect life. She was tall and thin. She had dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. She was a soccer player, and her team had won a regional championship. She was also very intelligent.

    Karen lived in a two-million-dollar house. It wasn't as gorgeous as the house next to it, which was on the front of Unique Homes, but I would have traded it for our house in a second. It had so many bedrooms that her older sister was allowed to have two. The whole place was decorated like a shrine to a happy family. The walls were covered with pictures of vacations, soccer games, and holidays. I always wanted my mom to put up pictures of our family, but she said she didn't have time.

    Karen's family was sort of like the Kennedys, without the politics. They were all smart, all excellent athletes. Her brother Rob attended Williams College. Her father was in the real estate development field, and her mother was a full-time homemaker. Every time I went to Karen's house, her mother was cooking something like chicken or pasta. And she would do anything for us, even run out and get a last-minute video. And I will never forget the hot fudge she made for special occasions like Karen's birthday.

    It's funny; I didn't like Karen in elementary school. She was a tomboy back then. She even admitted to me that she wore boxers in fifth grade. But by middle school she was in most of my classes and it didn't take long for me to see that she was no longer a tomboy. In fact, Karen had a way with guys, and all I could think was that she had somehow learned it during her tomboy phase.

* * *

    I couldn't approach guys the way Karen did. I didn't have her confidence. I knew I was not beautiful the way she was, but I also couldn't see what she saw in guys our age. The cliché about girls being more mature than boys is true. Just listen to boys talk. It's always about skateboarding or something they saw on TV. Girls talk about relationships and the future. Serious things.

    I also didn't understand the idea of dating at our age. I mean, I thought a date was where a guy picks a girl up at her house and takes her out. How can that happen in middle school? No one has a driver's license or the money for going out to eat or to a movie.

    Nevertheless, girls my age put a great deal of effort into somehow connecting with boys in a romantic and sexual way. I almost fell out of my chair in social studies class one day when I heard that a girl named Jenny had given a blow job to a boy named Adam at a local park. At first I refused to believe it. But I heard it from a reliable source, and Jenny was one of the short-skirt girls in our class. A month later she was reportedly actually having sex with another boy. I heard her talking about how she had used an orange-colored condom and how it felt to lose her virginity. I was so grossed out.

    It wasn't just Jenny who was running the bases sexually. Rumors flew around school about who fingered who, and what guy managed to get his hand up which girl's shirt.

    At parties we would play a game called Never Have I Ever. We would sit around in a circle with some type of alcohol or beverage. Someone would then say, "Never have I ever kissed someone," and everyone who had kissed someone would have to take a sip. This game made everyone's experience level in the sex department—or at least what they confessed to—common knowledge.

    My experience was nil, and I couldn't decide whether this was embarrassing or not. One spring afternoon I was sitting outside on a concrete bench waiting for a ride home from school. It was late, so there was only one other girl waiting with me. I had never talked to her before, but I knew who she was. She always wore black tops—long sleeve, short sleeve, halter—always black.

    It wasn't long before she asked me if I had a boyfriend. I wasn't even wearing a bra yet, and this girl wanted to know if I had a boyfriend.

    "Are you kidding me?" I laughed. "We are much, much too young to be dating."

    "What's the matter with you?" she said sarcastically. "We're not too young. Everybody's doing it. That's the way it is."

    And with that, she turned away. I felt stupid because there was obviously something going on that I didn't know about. Luckily my ride arrived and I didn't have to sit there with her any longer.

    When you are thirteen, you spend most of your time trying to figure out whether you're a kid or a teenager or an adult, when you are really part of each. You feel like people are constantly judging you for the most superficial reasons. No one my age seemed to be interested in music, or books, or any of the things that mattered to me. They cared more about who had big boobs and who was still a virgin. I was beginning to feel completely alone.

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Katie.com: My Story 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
AllieC7A More than 1 year ago
Katie.com, a memoir written by Katherine Tarbox, is about a girl,named Katie, who really enjoys using the computer and meeting new friends on AOL. Katie is lonely every since her sister left for college, and her parents are working non-stop. One day, she meets "Mark", a 23-year-old guy from California, whom she meets in an online chat room. Mark seems like the perfect guy. They both like all the same things: clothing, music and current events. Katie has become obsessed with talking to her new friend Mark, and after chatting on the phone and emailing or IMing for six months, Katie and Mark decide its time to meet. While preparing for an upcoming swim meet, Mark tells Katie he is going to meet her in Texas, before the swim meet. When Mark and Katie finally do meet, something strange happens that takes control over Katie's life for two years. If I were Katie, I wouldn't be able to trust "Mark". If you meet someone online, they could be anyone. They could be a 75 year old pretending to be 23, they could be a 10 year old pretending to be 23, or they could even be a stalker who is trying to hunt you down. For all I know, it could be some wacko trying to get a hold of you! In my opinion, I would never agree to meet Mark. I think this book is a great read for teens and young adults because they need to learn about things like this, not all of them understand that this could really happen and it relates to real life! This book teaches important lessons for people to know not to give out information about themselves on the internet, to not believe what everybody says, and that you shouldn't talk to strangers! I would definitely recommend this book because it provides the reader with a great lesson; great book, and relates to the real world! This could really happen, and I think all teens should read this book to learn what can really happen, when they give out too much information and when people aren't always who you think they are!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Katie commits her own crime on the Internet. She has not refunded me $3000.00. 
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is the best book ever!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought this book was very good and it was very ... reality based i guess i would definitly read it if i could ever find it somewhere
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it, the lesson was extremely important, and tells everyone just how seductive the internet world can be. This is the type of book that's not only entertaining and thrilling, but it has a lesson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OMG!! This was a great book. I could not put it down. Since im 13 and online all the time it really made me think!! I really liked this book and i hope others will to!! The author gave so much detail!!! It was great!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great way to inform your children about sexual predators. I'm not sure the title fits with it though, because it doesn't actually have anything to do with katie.com at all. Oh well, because the content surely makes up for it. The story of a great life, and should be shared with everyone. Great job Katie!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was really good. Katherine presented the book in her point of view as if it was lived right in front of your eyes. My first book that I actually finshed reading. I really enjoyed the book. It was a very sad yet thrilling story to know that people are out there trying to get with little girls and yet having them girls fall in love with old guys. it's happen in my family so you can say i can relate to it some how. can i get a free book now?
Guest More than 1 year ago
the book was ok, the lesson was important, but a boring read, Katherine Tarbox actually was a speaker at my school a couple weeks ago about internet safety, i got more out of the 1 hour talk than the entire book though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book lends a very rare insight into how a teenager's mind works and thinks. Afterall, not too many 16 year olds have been able to publish their own works! Katie very candidly reveals her thoughts as she recounts her experiences resulting from an encounter with a scheming pedophile whom she met on the Internet. Due to Katie's strength and fortitude, she is able to have the pedophile convicted to protect future potential victims from him, and through her book, tells us how she was able to be manipulated by him. By sharing this very difficult lesson with us, Katie is able to help us to understand how any kid could become a victim. In the end, Katie's strength enables her to turn a very negative situation into a much more positive one by sharing and teaching her lessons learned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book offers an important lesson from an insightful (first person) point of view. However, there are gaps in the story that can be frustrating. Monotonous tone makes reading a chore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great! I highly recomend it. It tells you the importance and safty precautions you should take while in a chat room. Never give people your personal information!!! Or you may end up having something have something happen to you simaler to what was done to Katie. You girls should NEVER EVER go in a chat room!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Four years ago my mom purchased my first computer. Connecting to America Online was a big deal at the time. One of the first things my mom made sure was in place were child restrictions. I remember thinking that she was being neurotic, and making it into a big deal. Well, I guess I really never understood just how dangerous a 'click of the mouse' could be until I read Katie.com by Katherine Tarbox. Five years ago, a somewhat naive 13 year old Katherine Tarbox was introduced to A.O.L. by her sister. Katie lived a rather sheltered life, with not much control because her mother had to work very hard and didn't have time speak to her daughter. Katherine Tarbox's days consisted of going to school where she was a top student and she was also a nationally ranked swimmer attending an elite school in a wealthy community in New Canaan Connecticut. Materialistically, Katie had everything she could hope for except a 'listener.' However, when Katie enters a teen chat room, she finds that 'listener' who permanatley alters her life. She meets 41 year old Frank, a.k.a 'Mark' who states his age as 23. Mark gives Katie the attention she has longed for. He tells her things such as 'your smart,' 'mature for your age,' 'sophisticated,' and things of that nature. Mark's ability to capture Katie's heart online, was absolutely frightening to me. This book has shed light on just how dangerous the Internet is. Every young adult, who enters a chat room should read Katie's story so they will understand just how unsafe it can be. In my opinion in today's society, children are exposed to a lot of sexual media. Personally I would strongly urge that this book be available in middle school libraries, and it wouldn't hurt for parent's to read it either.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Katie.com, by Katherine Tarbox, is a very sophisticated and great book. It is an autobiography about a certain event in Katherine Tarbox¿s life. Katie.com is a very real book, and it captures you mind into her life. When you read Katie.com, you get trapped in the story and keep on reading non-stop. It feels like you are the main Character. The story of Katie.com is very powerful. It is about a 13 year old girl who lives in New Canaan, Ct. She was in 8th grade, a top ranked swimmer on her swim team, had lots of friends, and a great family. Her life was perfect until she meets ¿Mark¿ a `23¿-year-old guy from California on the Internet. After she meets ¿Mark¿ and gets to know him a little better, she realizes that he was everything she was looking for in a guy. When they plan to meet, her whole world changed. Each character in Katie.com plays a very important role throughout the book. The first and main character is Katie. She meets Mark on the Internet. ¿Mark¿ claims that he lives in California and he meets Katie on the Internet. Abby is Katie¿s older sister who is in college. Abby brings a computer home over the summer equipped with America Online. Carrie is Katie¿s younger sister who looks up to Katie and Abby. Katie¿s mom and Dave (Katie¿s step dad) help Katie out through all of the hard times she goes trough. Frank, a 41-year-old man, is the creator of all the trouble. Katherine Tarbox¿s writing style is very different and creative. Her book, Katie.com, which is an autobiography, is written so well, that it doesn¿t feel like you are reading an autobiography. It feels like you are reading a regular fictional book. But, it is not a fictional book, it is a true story¿ Her story. I highly recommend this book to everybody. It is worth the time that you take to read. It leaves in you suspense until you turn on to the next page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually don't read true stories,I am more of mystery book person. But I was assigned for school to read it over the summer. And I thought it was a great book. It's so scary knowing that someting like that can happen to anyone. You learn many great lessons while reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i just finished reading this and let me tell u, i couldn't wait to sit down and start reading. u feel all the feelings that she does. beautifully written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so well written and compelling I could not put it down. It very accurately describes how easy it is for kids to 'meet' strangers online and develop relationships with them. Though I am an avid user and believer in the many good things about the internet, this book reveals the very worst of it and the dangers lurking--that it provides a way for predators, pedophiles, and socially maladjusted people to have access to our kids. This boook should be mandatory reading for all middle achool students.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was pure genius!!! It portrayed a lot of the dangers on the internet that many young teens don't know because they haven't been exposed to it yet. I believe that if you read this book, you will understand how a friendly, sensitive man can turn out to be your worst nightmare. Please read Katie.com
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a must read book, i mean this book is the best, it gets through your head. parents should let their children read this book because it will touch their lifes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is extremely well written, and is something we can all relate to. I recieved the book for Christmas, and finished it the same day--it is one of those 'you cant put it down' reads. The struggles and emotions of Katie Tarbox are so very close to home for teen readers of any age, that you gain insight, wisdom, and advice from this book. Any parent who has children that go online should buy this book for their child.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hey mah names Katie....so thats wut attracted me to this book!I am reading it for summer reading.It is a great book and relates alot to me.i am being so much more cautous online now than ever before. I think neone mah age should read it.Even some of mah friends have decided to borrow it from me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow. If you read it and think 'Well, that wasn't a true story, it could never happen.', I have something to say to you. It really could happen. You don't have to be who you really are on the internet. You can lie about your age, race and sex. It's scary, but it could really happen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, that's just mean, you last people who wrote the reviews. I'm only 13, and I have a boyfriend on the Internet. And I trust him with all of my heart. What happened to Katie was sad and not as stupid as you may think. Plenty of adults have been lured into relationships like that. She was brutally honest, down to the last detail, and very brave to tell people what happened. I know all about stalking, I'm highly interested in rape and murder because I'm working to be a forensic psychiatrist, and he was a pretty damn good one. I'm sure I couldn't've done much better, and I can make up whole lifes in half an hour. So give the girl a break. Although the book isn't exactly my favorite, it was a good one: well written and truthful. I hope that isn't going to happen to my relationship because, like I said, I trust him. And I love him. So I pray that he's not another Frank. Don't think I didn't take this as a warning, I really did, but that's not the point. If I refused a relationship with my sweety, I would be refusing my life, my forever. There are some really nasty people out there and that frightens me, but all you have to do is be careful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book goes well beyond just the internet problems. Because a teen wrote it, we are provided insight into a teenager's thinking that many of us rarely get. I highly recommend it to both teens and people who associate with them. Growing up into today's society is hard and I'm grateful that Katie was strong enough to share her feelings and mistakes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book lacking something.while I found her circumstance rather disturbing.I feel you should be careful especially on the internet.Even though she was young she should have known better.I'm giving this book two stars only because of the list in the back of the book.