Review of Reality Boy by A.S. King
Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars
my rating: OK
Reality Boy is the story of Gerald Faust, the youngest of three children that were presented to viewers on the reality show Network Nanny when he was just five years old. Back then he took his anger out on the drywall. And when that didn’t work he crapped on the table. All in front of the cameras.
In his small town he never outgrows his childhood as “The Crapper.” He’s seventeen now but has no friends and is still tormented by his oldest sister, Tasha, who lives in the basement and spends her time banging some guy. When she’s not trying to kill or provoke Gerald. Gerald’s other sister, Lisi, has escaped to college in Scotland. His mother is completely nuts and sees nothing Tasha does as wrong and keeps Gerald in special ed classes even though he’s not “retarded” as she calls him. His dad is a complete push-over and refuses to rock the boat.
Gerald feels completely abandoned by his family and society after they plastered his young indiscretions all over national TV before he could even understand the impact. So he goes about his life: school in the SPED room with the other “undesirables,” work at the arena where he deals with angry costumers and tries not to stare at the pretty girl on checkstand #1, and at the gym where he practices boxing despite being forbidden to get in the ring.
Things start to change the day a random hockey fan gives him a hug and lets him know that not everyone enjoyed watching him be tormented by his family on TV. Then he meets the son of a circus owner who hates his life just as much. And finally talks to the cute girl on checkstand #1 whose name is Hannah and wants to run away from him. But can he really do that? Run away and leave his crazy family behind?
For the most part I really liked this book. It was a look inside of a mentally ill teenage boy that has had to endure more than his fair share of issues in his seventeen years. Through flashbacks in the book you get glimpses of the realities of “reality TV,” and how Gerald was literally tortured by his psychopath sister, Tasha, who repeatedly tried to kill him and Lisi all while their mother looked the other way and always took Tasha’s side. Gerald learns very young that his mother doesn’t actually love him because she could never feel more love than she does for her first born and never wanted the other two kids. He lives in a sick and twisted family that made me want to scream. He begs his father to get him out of it but his father does nothing until the very end. It takes him finally running away with Hannah to get through to his father.
Gerald and Hannah’s relationship isn’t in the traditional style of rainbow and roses young adult romance. It’s much more real. The more secrets the two try to hide from each other the more screwed up things get. They fight a lot, they made up. It’s a confusing roller coaster of a ride but they might just be the only two people on the planet that can understand where the other is coming from.
I only gave it three stars mainly because the pacing seemed slow. Parts of the book just dragged on. At first I loved it and just couldn’t stop reading then after a night’s sleep I couldn’t get back into it and by the end I was just wondering when it was going to end.