Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Reality BoyTitle: Reality Boy

Author: A.S. King

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 22nd, 2013

Interest: Author / Contemp / Guy appeal

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

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.

A.S. King sold me on Reality Boy when she read the prologue during an author event at one of my local indies. It was engaging and something I knew I could read to my students to sell them as well. But honestly, I don’t need A.S. King to sell me on any of her books because I’ll read anything she writes. Her books are awesome.

Reality Boy is a book that will resonate with a variety of my students. I know I can hand it to my students who are dealing with anger issues. They’ll relate with Gerald and appreciate his struggles. Hopefully they’ll find that they’re not alone and can change for the better. Hopefully they’ll seek help if they haven’t already. I know I can hand it to my students who have a tough life at home. On the outside it probably looks like Gerald’s life is a good one. Appearances can be deceiving, and while not all of my students come from deceivingly happy homes, many of them deal with tough home lives. Again, Gerald will let them know that they’re not alone. He’ll give them hope. I know I can hand Reality Boy to my students who simply want to read a great story. Gerald will provide them with that.

Back to the appearances can be deceiving point. I’ve read some criticisms that Gerald’s stint on reality TV wasn’t that big of a deal since it aired when he was so young and that he was only on a couple episodes. Those are valid points, but I think the reality TV focus goes a little deeper than that. Gerald’s experience with reality TV drives the point home that appearances can be deceiving. The bigger point to those episodes is what viewers, and even his parents, don’t see. No one sees how messed up his family is. Yes, it’s bad that Gerald was going to the bathroom wherever he wanted to, but what was happening with his sister was even worse. His parents, especially his mother, are blind to what’s really happening in their own home.  There are a number of reasons for this and sadly it’s affected Gerald’s state of well-being and even his education. In my opinion, A.S. King is asking her readers to pay more attention and to be empathetic. I could be wrong, but that’s what I took away from reading Reality Boy.

This is yet another excellent book written by an excellent author. I hope you’ll read it and share it with others.

Comments

  1. I’ve never read a book by this author, but I just got Please Ignore Vera Dietz from the library. This book sounds really interesting, but it sounds a bit sad so I’ll have to wait until I’m in the mood for that type of book. Great review!

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      This is kind of a sad book, but not a “it made me teary/cry” sad. The situation is sad, but ultimately it’s a hopeful story, like most of King’s books.

  2. Just finished this book this week, and WOW! I agree with everything you wrote and more. We, as adults, so often ignore teenage anger as “drama” or just wanting attention. This book gives credence to those teens who experience all-encompassing anger. I’ve read the remarks about the reality show as well, and I completely disagree. The tv show was a big deal for Gerald and that’s really all that mattered. It changed who he was and how he saw himself. That alone makes it important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – your review, along with AS King herself, made me move this to the top of my reading pile.

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  1. […] out on Tuesday, and I’m anxiously awaiting it. While I’m waiting, I have review from Sarah Anderson’s at YA Love and Jennifer Hubert at Reading Rants to tide me over.  Go check them […]

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