Brash and Raw – Reality Boy by A.S. King

Posted 11 March, 2014 by Heather in Blog, Heather, Heather Book Review / 15 Comments

Brash and Raw – Reality Boy by A.S. King

Reality Boy

by 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
Pages: 358
Length: 7 hours and 42 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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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.

4.5 Stars
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.

contemporaryaudiobook

My Thoughts:

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.

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Heather

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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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15 Responses to “Brash and Raw – Reality Boy by A.S. King”

  1. Oh, this POOR kid! You know, you rarely think of what happens to the reality show kids after the show is done and has moved on. I think I got this one at BEA last year…I’m going to have to read this!
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    Heather 3/11/2014

    Definitely move Reality Boy up your pile. The older sister is a real piece of work, and you will want to slap the crap out of her and the parents.
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  2. I loved Reality Boy. I bought 4 or 5 other A.S. King books right after reading this. Even though this is fiction, I’m sure this is an accurate depiction on how actual children (thinking of the Gosselins, primarily) suffer when forced onto TV by their parents.
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    Heather 3/11/2014

    I’m definitely interested in more books by A.S. King after reading Reality Boy too! This book read so real, you couldn’t help but be horrified by Gerald’s family’s behavior throughout the whole text. I’m glad you liked it too!
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  3. Chanpreet

    That’s some cover. So is that blurb and your review. I feel like I’d like this book but it would mess with me emotionally so I shall proceed with caution.

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    Heather 3/11/2014

    Reality Boy didn’t mess with me emotionally so much, except that it did make me angry at his parents just ignoring everything and not stepping in to punish the older sister for anything. Since the book is from Gerald’s point of view, it’s super sympathetic to him, so it’s not that bad. You should give it a shot!
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    Chanpreet 3/12/2014

    That’s good to know. I guess I don’t need to be so hesitant after all. 🙂

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  4. Oh, what a great review! I have wondered about this novel as I haven’t read anything by A.S. King. I’ve wanted to read Dust of 100 Dogs but read the reviews about how dark it was. I get that this one will be. Audio sounds like a good way to go. Excellent review!!
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    Heather 3/11/2014

    Reality Boy isn’t really all that dark, but it will make you mad at how dysfunctional and enabling his family is when it comes to the psychotic older sister. Gerald and his other sister are really abused by the older sister, and the parents really turn a blind eye to it over the years.

    The audiobook for this one is very good. I really enjoyed the narrator.
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  5. I have this book and keep meaning to read it. I like A.S. King. Sounds like it’s a bit on the depressing side though.

    have you heard of Something Real by Heather Demetrios? It’s another book about a reality TV family. I really loved it.

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    Heather 3/13/2014

    Reality Boy wasn’t very depressing, it was more anger inducing because of his psycho sister and enabling parents.

    I haven’t heard of Something Real. I’m off to check into that right now!
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