Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

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Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King
Reality Boy
A.S. King
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: October 22nd 2013
by Little Brown BfYR

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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.
-A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review-

This story was absolutely messed up and also incredibly fascinating, with one of the most dysfunctional family units I have yet to come across. Reality shows are all the rave in the recent years, Reality Boy is the best example of how these shows are the opposite of reality. Do we ever stop to think of the psychological toll they take on a child? Especially when too young to understand how life can be so unfair. Network Nanny, the show in this book, is not very far off from our own running Reality shows. How do you think the kids in Supernanny will grow up with everyone at school, in their whole town, have seen them at their worst? Imagine your childhood tantrums shown on national TV! More often than not edited out of context to make it more “entertaining” for its viewers. This is the story of Gerald – aka the Crapper.

There are many words I could use to describe this story. Traumatic. Heartbreaking. Disturbing. Unfortunate. But also with hints of hope that things could end well for our protagonist. Gerald was a trouble child, which is his mom’s excuse for having asked Network Nanny for help. They soon become the hottest entertainment of Friday night TV. Gerald, being too young to understand very much, retaliates under this pressure and change in the worst of ways – as you would expect, really. It’s a retaliation that will haunt him throughout his childhood and teen years. This story is brilliantly told in alternating past and present point-of-views where we see who Gerald is today, while simultaneously learning what happened in his childhood to make him so mentally defeated. We go back to the filming of the show: What the network has done to this family, how they manipulated the scenes, how this fake nanny actually did nothing to help them, but most importantly, we learn the truth. A 5 year old boy then, Gerald only wanted someone to fight on his side. As for the real problem: it was not Gerald, and it was all kinds of troubling.

The writing is what I loved the most in this book. It’s written in a voice of someone who has been psychologically abused by his family and a TV network. His mental state could not have been easy to portray, but A.S. took it head on. This story is harsh, yet honest and raw. It’s told through a fragmented mind, yet amazingly genuine. Some parts are strange, others are simply disturbing, all are emotionally affecting. Imagine being told by your mother, repeatedly, that you’re retarded. That the problem in your messed up family is you. Eventually you come to believe it. You are a child. Your parents are the people you look up to and believe in. My heart was breaking in two each time we went to the past and heard the thoughts of this sweet little boy. The more we learned of how he grew up, the more it took a toll on me. Having a little boy of my own, I couldn’t help from being emotionally invested in this child getting the rotten end of the stick. As a teenager, Gerald still uses several methods to escape reality. Like Gersday – an alternate reality he dozes off to whenever real life becomes too much. While we journey with him, he finds his first love, his first ray of hope, and we get to observe the mental instabilities that he’s trying to overcome.

This is the story of Gerald. The price he paid for entertainment.

5 Stars
5 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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21 Responses to “Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King”

  1. Maya @ The Book Nook

    Oh, I hadn’t heard of Reality Boy before but it sounds really good – very emotional and I’m glad you liked the writing too. I will definitely be on the look out for this when it comes out. Lovely review!

  2. JennRenee

    awesome review. I wasn’t quite sure of this book when I first glanced at it. your review sure hleped me make up my mind. it sounds really good. To be honest i never thought about the outcome years later of those kids on Supernanny.

  3. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Wow I don’t think I’ve heard of anything like this- I can’t believe such a mother would do that to her own son. I really do think I’d love this though, seems like a poignant read.

    Fabulous review, Giselle! <33

  4. Shelly

    I loved A.S. King’s other work and this one sounds like it’s going to be her best book yet. It sounds so sad but very intriguing. Amazing review!

  5. Savannah

    I love issue books. And children do deal with a lot. I’m come from a mess up home myself and am till upset with my upbringing at times. Loved your review.

  6. Karen

    I didn’t like it quite as much but it was definitely an accurate and sad commentary on our fame/reality obsessed culture. Especially the effects it has on the young stars that parents shove in front of the cameras for their own personal gains.

    I felt so bad for Gerald.

  7. Pili

    Wow, I hadn’t heard about this book before and being a contemporary I wouldn’t have give it too much attention, I’m afraid! So glad your post is here to correct that!
    Great review! I will surely be giving a try to this book now!

  8. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    Oh wow, this book looks intensely amazing! The psychological aspect of this book is what interests me the most. I am super excited to see that you gave this a rating of 5! Those don’t happen all that often. I am adding this to my TBR pile right away.

    Thanks Giselle

  9. kimbacaffeinate

    Wow Giselle this one is totally new to me, and while I loathe reality tv and refuse to watch it..the psychological impact really piques my interest. You have me curious about the author’s writing, the family and this little boy. Wonderful review. Have a lovely weekend 🙂

  10. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    Wow, reading the synopsis, I wouldn’t have expected such a deep and powerful book. I agree, it must be totally unsettling to have the whole of your childhood life displayed on the TV for everyone to see. And I like that the story is told both in the past and present — I thought it’d only be from the present, with brief glimpses into Gerald’s past! This would be a much more effective way to impact the reader, for sure.

    I’m intrigued as to what this “real problem” you mentioned. If it’s not Gerald, then who? Or what? His mom? TELL ME. And this: “His mental state could not have been easy to portray, but A.S. took it head on.” — I love this. I don’t think I’ve read anything by A.S. King, so the fact that she was able to write from the POV of a very troubled, possible mentally sick person is just… amazing. Authors are already having difficulty with “normal” people — just think of how much A.S. has achieved in this case!

    I haven’t even met Gerald, and yet I still feel so much pity for him. That mother ought to be shot and killed (I’m sorry). So I’m so, so glad that there’re still rays of hope for him. I wonder how this story will end… With a good note, I hope.

    Great review, Giselle! I have to admit that I wasn’t originally planning on reading this, but now you’ve changed my mind, definitely.

    • Giselle

      You so have to read this, Megan! When you find out what was realy going on with Gerald and his family it will just break your heart and what’s worse is there’s not really anyone to blame, in a way, though his mother surely made things worse. Curious enough yet? 😛

      And yes A.S. showed his mental state in a very impressive and realistic way. He has some deep rooted psychological problems and it’s heartbreaking. I hope you love it as much as I did!

  11. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    I really had no idea what this was about. Wow, I think this will hit a few hot buttons for me. I have 3 children ranging from 9 to 19. I couldn’t imagine the things being told to him as a child, that is just awful. I hand’t planned on picking this one up, but I think I will now, it sounds like it will be an emotional journey to follow. Wonderful review.

  12. Vivian

    Wow! The premise of this book sounds pretty interesting. Granted, reality shows are entertaining, but it’s obvious they mess up a lot of people. I’ve also heard that AS King is a great writer. I’ll have to check this out. Great review Giselle!

  13. Aman

    I’m a reality tv junkie but I often wonder how much it changes those people, and this book sounds really promising in portraying that behind the scene action. I wasn’t going to read this book anytime soon, but that 5 star rating just did the trick. Fantastic review, Giselle!