Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Reality Boy by AS King

Reality Boy 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.

My Review:

Reality Boy is a really good story that shows what reality TV is really like.  I don't really watch reality TV, but I still liked getting to find out more about it in this book.  


Gerald is angry, and he's been through a lot in his life so far.  After all, nobody would want to be remembered as the boy who pooped on things in his house when he was five.  But people do remember Gerald for that.  He was on a nanny show where all the sordid details of his family life at five were displayed on TV, but not necessarily in their proper context.  At seventeen, people he go to school still call him the "Crapper."  One boy at school, Nichols, calls him "Crapper" the most, it seems.  Nichols also shows up at the sports center where Gerald works and calls him names there too.  During school, Gerald takes SPED class (special ed), and the people there are all nice to him.  I really liked the kids who were in SPED with him.

The family dynamics in the book are really messed-up, both in the past and in the present.  First, his mom decides to write a letter to Network Nanny and have her come to help the family.  What I don't understand is how she thought having her family's problems displayed on TV would actually help them.  She also says that she can't love her two younger kids as much as she loves Tasha because she doesn't have the capacity to love that much.  That's a terrible thing for someone to say about her own children.  Gerald's oldest sister, Tasha, is awful.  She tries to drown Gerald in the bathtub.  She tries to choke him.  She does all kinds of things to try to kill him, and the mom just turns a blind eye to this.  The family treats Gerald like he needs his problems fixed, when Tasha is just as bad, and maybe even worse.  At the age of twelve, she was doing things with a boy that twelve-year-olds should not be doing.  Gerald's other sister, Lisi, who is older than him, but younger than Tasha, seems fine.  She was away at college in another country, and she seemed like she just wanted to escape the family.  She didn't call when she was away.   I was happy that there was resolution to some of the family problems by the end of the book.

The relationship between Gerald and Hannah (Register #1 Girl) was well-written.  Both of them had problems with the lives that they were living, and they were able to help each other.   Their relationship certainly wasn't easy.  Hannah would mention the TV show occasionally, and that made Gerald mad, because he didn't want her to see him as the boy from the show.  When she brought up the show, he called her a "brainwashed moron," which prompted her to do something else that made him even angrier.  I liked how they came up with rules, and how they broke rule #5.  When they would kiss, Gerald would mention breaking rule #5 in his narration.  Overall, despite some of their issues along the way, I thought they made a sweet couple, and they helped each other.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


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