Author: A.S. King
Publish Date: October 22nd, 2013
Number of Pages: 353
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.
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.
Reality Boy had almost everything I was hoping for. Almost.
I knew it was going to be about a messed up teenager who’s life had been ripped apart by his family and Network Nanny. I wasn’t expecting anything about crap to show in the novel. I feel so bad for Gerald because “The Crapper” has to be one of the most humiliating nicknames ever. Gerald’s story was so unhappy. His growth and realization as he goes through school and learns to open up to other people is something that was rewarding to read about. He’s a misunderstood soul that’s been labelled as a criminal simply because of the fact that he was never taught how to portray his emotions. His character was raw and realistic, someone that was characterized very very well. I couldn’t help but sympathize with him. There were multiple scenes in this book that just made me want to give Gerald a hug. By the end of the book, I wanted to applaud him for finally stepping up and becoming a stronger character. He’s a really nice person but the outsiders have been deluded by the superficial image they have of his childhood persona.
I didn’t really like the love interest, Hannah. I found her kind of annoying at times but I can understand how Gerald would have liked her. The build-up for them was really cute. They are a good couple but I couldn’t feel the chemistry. Part of the reason I didn’t really like it was because of the fact that I didn’t like Hannah as a character.
I loved the setting of this story. The hockey arena, school, house, every crucial setting was described very well. I could imagine the format of the hockey arena and his house. I could vividly picture nearly every setting in the book.
Plot-wise, I felt like the book was lacking. It’s entirely about Gerald’s road to recovery and realization and it’s a heart-breaking one at that. It’s told in a combination of scenes from the show that Gerald’s family was on, Network Nanny, and the present. It’s a very effective form of storytelling. By doing this, King slowly reveals more and more snippets of Gerald’s past and links it to how it affected the future. While her storytelling skills were great, the plot was not good enough. The important moments were distinct (moments when he reflects on his family, key events in the book, etc.), but the connections between them sometimes dragged.
Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books where the main characters seem to suffer from some type of mental disorder. In this case, Gerald has anger-management issues and King handles the subject matter extremely well. She shows that there are multiple layers to a victim’s anger and that even if the victim says that he or she isn’t trying, some of them genuinely want to recover. She brings up the idea that family issues can be the reason that a someone is the way that they are. And most importantly, she addresses the amount of truth that lies in reality television. We all know that reality tv is completely fake through and through but in the process of creating these shows, the children and actors are negatively impacted.
I didn’t like the writing in Reality Boy. I thought that it matched Gerald’s tone and personality but personally, I didn’t enjoy reading it. It felt scattered and choppy, which I suppose, is what King might have been trying to accomplish in this novel (that is, the disorganized, highly-unstable mind of an angry teenager).
There were some plot aspects that I loved about the book. Gerald and Hannah’s list of demands (basically a list of stuff they wanted from their dysfunctional families/parents). The story about Gerald and his sister Lisi (Lisis worked her butt off to escape their house). The circus. Gerald’s class (He was placed in the special-needs class by his mother.). Although it was awful for Gerald, I really liked the parts of the story with Tasha (sex-fiend who does it loudly in the basement with no remorse). The boxing. The hockey fan that recognized Gerald.
All in all, a pretty good book that occasionally dragged.