Reality Boyby A.S. King (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Narrator: Michael Stellman
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on October 22, 2013
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 7 hours and 42 minutes
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
Gerald Faust and his family were featured on “Network Nanny” when he was five years old. With a sadistic older sister that is doted upon by their parents, Gerald and his other sister react to being broadcasted across the world in different ways. First he vents his frustration and anger by punching things, but then he starts pooping on things. How can he expect to not have a nickname like “The Crapper” when a reality show featured his number one way of getting back at his evil sister or his neglectful parents, especially when at five years old he had a television crew egging him on?
Twelve years later, he’s close to finishing high school and working at a concession stand at the local sports arena. Gerald’s isolated and doesn’t fit in thanks to his notoriety that persists from the reality show and being forced into special education classes on the insistence of his mother. His parents are even more self-absorbed and enabling of the older sister Tasha, who’s flunked out of college and now lives in the basement and is generally disrespectful to everyone she sees. Gerald’s other sister was so eager to get away from the family that she has gone to college all the way across the ocean, and she hasn’t been in much contact since she left.
This is really a story of how much a kid can be messed up by their family and other people, and how after being emotionally abused and beaten down for so long they start to believe that they are worthless. He’s been repeatedly told since he was five that the problems in his family were only caused by him. Gerald’s anger at being helpless to fight back against his physically and emotionally abusive sister Tasha as a child, combined with the lack of action (besides the phone call to “Network Nanny”) on his parents’ part to make theirs lives anything but dysfunctional, has left him on the edge of blowing a gasket at any time. His anger has morphed and intensified as he’s grown toward adulthood and tries to assert his independence.
I give Reality Boy a four out of five. Gerald is such an intense, raw, and heart-breakingly angry character. Getting inside of his head throughout the book, in both the present and through flashbacks to the reality show, you get an in-depth and realistic look at what it’s like for a boy who just wants to be supported and loved to be exploited and pushed aside. Through befriending a girl who is just as messed up as Gerald is, you get to see a side of Gerald that is fighting to be a normal, functioning person-one that doesn’t have to go to his happy place to deal with his psychotic sister. Overall, this book shows that the short time that reality shows are with the family, they don’t magically fix that family’s dysfunctions when they are deeply troubled–especially if they don’t think anything is wrong to begin with.
I listened to the audiobook provided by Hachette Audio
Get your own Audiobook at Audible: Reality Boy.
The narrator’s voice was perfect for this book. Michael Stellman had the anger, the angst, and the helplessness of teen aged Gerald down so perfectly that it was almost like listening to one tell their own story. The audiobook was definitely enjoyable and I highly recommend it, even if it’s just to here him say “F*ck this sh*t!” throughout the text. It’s perfect and hilarious teen aged angst at its best.