Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 10/22/13
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Reality Boy is the disturbing tale of an unusual type of family abuse exacerbated by being on a nanny reality TV show. The depth and believability that A.S. King conveys through her characters and themes was impressive as usual, and I actually read the 300+ pages in one sitting. The themes of lacking motherly love, psychopathic behavior and the delusional promotion of schadenfreude by the reality TV industry were very powerful. I was surprised by how upset I became at the mother and older sister and the unfairness of Gerald’s situation. There are all sorts of books about messed-up families, but this is the first I’ve seen that explored the topics of abusive siblings, post-traumatic anger management, child suffering as mass entertainment, and bystanders as criminals. The chapters alternated between Gerald as a teenager trying to cope with his past and excerpts from when his family was on the nanny show.
Memorable or Forgettable: Once again A.S. King has produced a thematically powerful, character-driven narrative. Even though the topics were quite heavy, there were moments of humor and redemption. The only component of the book that I didn’t particularly care for was the romance, but I understand that it was a way for Gerald to realize he’s not the only one dealing with the aftermath of family issues. I actually skipped over the chapters that were particularly romance-y because I could predict what was going to happen in them and wanted to get back to the explanation of the family. It’s not my favorite A.S. King book (Everyone Sees the Ants), but it is a worthy addition to her formidable collection. This book is memorable because of its unusual and well-developed themes.
Cover: The cover is okay; I like how his face and the title are sort of broken up and disrupted, like his life. I picked this up because I’ve liked other A.S. King books and a friend recommended it.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
tags: realistic fiction / contemporary / ya lit