Author: A.S. King (Twitter)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: October 22, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.
Gerald is the kid that everybody knew...and that nobody knew at all. Twelve years ago, his family invited TV cameras into their home to "help" them with their struggling family dynamic, complete with off-kilter and a dysfunctional child. Little did most of the viewing population know, every single moment was carefully crafted by someone more devious and psychotic than the rest, aimed solely at placing all blame and drama on young Gerald's head. Today, those memories, and that life, haunt him still. Will he ever be able to escape his past?
In a day and age where reality TV is, oddly enough, king, Reality Boy couldn't be more relevant for the YA crowd. Yet, for some reason, this book has missed the necessary hype to get readers excited for its potential. It flew under the radar for me, as well, and I almost turned it down, but I did see some promise for another dramatic and realistic storyline from author, A.S. King. I was thoroughly impressed by the depth of this book, the internal struggle brought to light and a boy so lost in a web of false impressions that he's not even sure who he is anymore. This book, this story and this raw, gritty and emotional journey will definitely stick with me.
Guys, it's been a long time since I've read an entirely believable male protagonist. There was such a heartbreaking authenticity to Gerald's voice in Reality Boy that made his plight resonate from the very first page. I couldn't quite get a grasp on his character at first because he is so very misunderstood, and a lot of what we are offered is what the very viewers of the reality show Gerald was a part of saw. He is such a broken, battered character - not externally though - so his wounds cut much deeper and, to most, can't even be recognized. He's simply seen as damaged. But there are so many facets to Gerald's character that make this story sing because as we peel back each singed, tainted and bruised layer, we begin to see that there is a genuine and vulnerable boy underneath who, above all else, simply wants to run from the nickname "Crapper" and the traumatic past that damaged him so much. Perhaps equally strong was the portrayal of Gerald's family throughout the reality TV process. Complete with a British nanny and staged scenarios, Lisi, Gerald and their malicious older sister, Tasha, are forced to live out their young lives for the world to see, digest and regurgitate - tainted by their own impressions, which haunt both Gerald and Lisi to this day. As the story progresses, we watch as this broken, shattered boy finds someone that sees him for something other than the poisoned image from reality TV, and as Hannah gently helps mend his heart, we can't help but root for their story to finally give Gerald the happy life he so desperately deserves. Now, be aware that the romance plays second fiddle to Gerald's journey, but it's done beautifully nonetheless, and I loved it.
Overall, I was completely floored by the sheer poignance and power of Reality Boy. I hope this book doesn't remain as under-hyped as it is now, and I really hope that readers give it a shot. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.