I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 22, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Book Expo America
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Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.
In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.
Warning: This book will give you all the feels. Reader discretion is advised.
You know when you finish a book and just sit there for a long time trying to process why your eyes won’t stop leaking? Reality Boy will do that to you. I feel like I should be very straightforward and tell you that I am a huge A.S. King. I’ve read all her books and I loved most of them. Some writers are masters at pulling every single one of your heartstrings and creating relatable characters. A.S. King is one of them. If you’re familiar with her stories, this book has a similar feel to Everybody Sees the Ants. If you’re not, think of John Green’s clever writing meets Sarah Dessen’s realistic characters.
In this novel, our main character’s current reputation is based on his behavior as a five-year-old boy on a reality TV show called Network Nanny. Gerald and his family–his mom, dad, and two sisters–are pushed to the breaking point by the producers of the show. It goes without saying that the version of events seen by millions of people are completely different to reality. Every minute of their lives is edited down to create the most dramatic episode possible. So, what would a child do if he’s sick of all the crap happening in his home? If you’re Gerald Faust, you defecate. Everywhere. Yes, that’s right. A.S. King went there.
- He did what to his sister’s room? AND to his mother’s purse? AND to the kitchen table? Dear God.
Emotionally speaking, Reality Boy takes you on a horrible journey of self-discovery. How can you enjoy a book that makes you, the reader, feel so…awful? Well, the writing is that excellent. It is personal and suffocating. Every moment leaves such a powerful impact on the reader and every breakdown gives the story that extra layer of familiarity. It doesn’t hurt that Gerald’s family is as dysfunctional as they come. The mother in this book is infuriating. I found myself putting the book down from time to time because I was so incredibly angry at this woman. The things she does to Gerald are so agonizing to read. I’m not a hugger but I wanted to take this guy in my arms and never let him go.
Gerald, let me love you.
If I could pinpoint a weakness in Reality Boy, I would criticize the ending. I felt like it didn’t match the rest of the book. I expected something a little bit more dramatic considering the fact that the story is frustrating, emotional, and uncomfortable to read. Also, as much as it pains me to say this, I think that the story didn’t benefit from the love story. Some of the best scenes in the novel are the ones where King goes inside Gerald’s head and shows the reader that he’s projecting his pain and anguish as anger. When you add a girl who has issues of her own into his life, it distracts from the other mentally unstable characters. I’m just being picky here, though.
Overall, I highly recommend Reality Boy to anyone who loves a good/heartbreaking YA Contemporary novel. Just make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.