Reality Boy by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Years after having reached infamy as the boy who crapped everywhere, the kid is still known as the Crapper... and he doesn’t want to be, given him being in high school, him having no friends to speak of, and him being in love with the girl on register #1.
So, it’s a love story; only not just because it’s mostly him (trying) to cope with who he is and how others perceive him, as well as how he perceives himself. He lives a life a governed by rules meant to manage the anger he has; anger directed at himself, at others, but mostly anger directed at a family that has less than zero expectations of him. Thing go from frustrating to angry to sometimes funny then painfully real, as little secrets then not so little secrets are unearthed: especially how he may be messed up, but he isn’t alone in that respect, and he isn’t the worse for that matter.
It’s mainly a story of family except theirs is not the typical sort (at all). There’s the usual antagonism between siblings that’s taken a life of its own. More than sister-brother hair pulling and shoving or what not, here we’ve got certain members doubting safety and security that most of us take for granted. The rest of the world sees him as The Crapper, the unmanageable one, screwed up and in the place he ought to be. But what the rest of the world fails to see is the rest of the story; the picture presented of Reality Boy is decidedly incomplete and far from what’s actually real. Is that a given? That reality entertainment is worlds away from what’s real. Perhaps.
On to the love angle: they make another odd pair of not the popular ones; and thinking thus, you’d expect them a match made in heaven, only with each their baggage said outcome, well, highly unlikely is what you get. The notions he has of relationships and girls are more than slightly skewed, but perhaps that’s to be expected given the skewed notions others have of him.
It’s obvious some of the places this story takes us, but when it’s not obvious and it’s not about how under the microscope his life was rather more about what’s not shown and what he’s holding back… things do get real. The quirky set up could have made things less, but when you go beyond “Reality” in Reality Boy, this does get authentic and yes… real.
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