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Title: Reality Boy
Author: A.S. King
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Free Preview of the first 14 Chapters: Amazon
Genre: YA | Fiction | Contemporary
My Rating: 4.5
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.
Sixteen year old Gerald Faust has grown up with the social stigma of having been featured on a reality TV show when he was a 5 year old child. Network Nanny, a show similar to Supernanny, swooped in to try to “fix” the problem children but failed to address the real problems, a violent psychotic sister and an emotionally detached mother leaving a very resentful 5 year old who acted out in the only way he knew how. His outrageous behavior made him somewhat of a local celebrity, although Gerald didn’t see this as something to have been proud of. The combination of his embarrassment about those things shown on Network Nanny and his anger, hurt, and resentment about what he has to deal with in his crazy dysfunctional home has made Gerald an extremely volatile kid. The coping skills he has acquired, some on his own and some through his Anger Management sessions, keeps his violent outbursts in check but also makes him very socially awkward.
The first thing I have to praise about Reality Boy was the authenticity of the characters. The author goes to some dark places and pokes and prods so that the reader can understand the feeling and motivation behind each of her characters actions. I felt for Gerald and spent most of the book furious with his negligent parents, reality TV, and a world where things like this go unnoticed or unremarked upon. Gerald’s inner dialog, while sometimes extremely odd, allowed me to connect with him and understand his inner turmoil, his self-doubt, and his rage.
The romance was understated and thankfully not the focal point of the book. It felt genuine and I enjoyed Hannah almost as much as I liked Gerald. Hannah had her own emotional baggage which seemed to sometimes clash with Gerald’s and at other times, be a perfect fit. I loved how quirky they both were and how these quirks seemed to forge a bond between them. It was very nicely done.
There isn’t much negative to say about Reality Boy. I enjoyed reading this much more than I was expecting to having never read anything by this author previously. The only flaws I can think of may be that some parts tended to be a bit repetitive and the story maybe lagged a bit here and there. However, these issues are minor compared to how fascinating and original I found this story to be. I was completely drawn in and invested in Gerald’s story.
I would absolutely recommend Reality Boy to fans of contemporary YA. This book has heart, spirit, and originality. I look forward to reading more of this author’s books!
About A.S. King:
A.S. King is the author of the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner, Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, a 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and Andre Norton Award nominee, and the Edgar Award nominated, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
She is also the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults Dust of 100 Dogs, an adult short story collection, Monica Never Shuts Up, and the upcoming REALITY BOY (2013). After a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.
For more author information, fun facts, book report fodder, go to The OFFICIAL A.S. KING AUTHOR PAGE.
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