Book Review: Reality Boy by A. S. King

Reality Boy
Author: A. S. King
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Released: October 22nd 2013
Review Source: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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" struggling to break free of his anger.

Gerald Faust started feeling angry even before his mother invited a reality TV 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. No one cares that Gerald has tried to learn to control himself; they're all just waiting for him to snap. And he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that...until he chooses to create possibilities for himself that he never knew he deserved.

This story follows the aftermath of a boy’s reality TV experience. The story starts off quite angrily, but with reason. See, Gerald didn’t want to be on TV, he was just five years-old when he was put on the small screen. The reality show was one of those where a supposed “nanny” comes and “fixes” your family. His mom had written the show due to Gerald’s previous anger problems and inexplicable outbursts of negative behavior.

Gerald was raised with two older sisters and his parents in a fairly upper-middle class gated community. His mom stayed at home while his dad worked long hours as a real estate agent, sounds like a typical white picket fence family, what does Gerald have to be angry about? What would drive his mom to call in an entire TV crew to control his behavior instead of taking care of it herself? Well, Gerald himself wasn’t exactly the problem. His oldest sister, Tasha, was a trigger for him. She would quite literally attempt murder on Gerald and his other older sister, Lisi. Also, she became sexually active at the age of 12. If that doesn’t scream that she’s the “problem child,” I don’t know what will. However, Tasha had their mother convinced it was all Gerald’s own disorder of being “retarded and gay.” Fast-forward a few years and Gerald has been seeing an anger-management coach, Tasha dropped out of college twice, and Lisi has moved to Scotland. Mom is still willingly oblivious to the horror her daughter is and Dad is out of the house as much as possible for his own sanity. So, I feel like Gerald’s anger is justified throughout the story. Though, it’s not a sob story and Gerald most certainly isn’t throwing a pity party. He has a job and he meets Register #1 girl. He doesn’t call her by name to prevent getting attached because his coach says girls can only cause anger. He couldn’t help it, though. Eventually there’s a mutual interest and things progress.

There is a happy ending and Gerald learns that Tasha could be diagnosed as a psychopath, that doesn’t produce any sympathy toward her or his mother, though. He is the one who dealt with her behavior, after all.

There are just so many elements to this story and I always found myself rooting for Gerald because he deserves happiness, even if he doesn’t see it for himself. There’s family, and romance, and drama, and high school, and a satisfying ending. It’s a solid and entertaining story.

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