Reality Boy

Reality Boy

Book - 2013
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An emotionally damaged seventeen-year-old boy in Pennsylvania who was once an infamous reality television show star, meets a girl from another dysfunctional family, and she helps him out of his angry shell.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316222709
Branch Call Number: FIC King
Characteristics: 353 pages


From Library Staff

KateHillier Apr 18, 2014

If you ever wondered what happened to those kids you see on those Nanny 911 type shows, this shows you what could be.

Gerald was on a show called "Network Nanny" when he was five. He became infamous for a particularly gross thing he would do in an effort to get someone to pay attent... Read More »

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Sep 24, 2017

Some parts were a bit...unrealistic. I wasn't sure how they were able to get to some settings and just leave like it wasn't a big deal. But this is still an immensely enjoyable book, one that I've reread.

SCL_Justin Aug 10, 2017

What I love about A.S. King's Reality Boy is how it takes a good hook – the protagonist is a 17-year-old who when he was little was on a reality TV show about misbehaving children where he shat on a bunch of things – and piles on the dysfunction, and makes you see the situation the way he does, but then as the tension mounts and mounts and mounts there’s this understanding that actually, this is more cussed up than a person should have to deal with. Especially a 17-year-old.

King is so good at writing teens who think they’re cussed up and then realize that actually their situation is even more cussed up than they thought, and really it’s up to them to say something. This idea that adults are full of shit and need you to tell them that things are cussed up even if they won’t believe you is, I think, an important message. Even though it’s not written as a “message” novel. There’s something subversive about this, that it is actually well within your rights not to fit in and to be angry at the way the world is, even if other people have it worse.

The story is also hella romantic, with angry teenage true love and fights and a bit of running away to join the circus. It’s an excellent book, even if it is a pretty quick read. Highly recommended.

Aug 28, 2016

Got hyped because of the good reviews, majorly disappointed. Predictable story, unlikable characters. 1 star for Hockey Lady, the only sane person in the story.

JCLChrisK Aug 29, 2015

Silly me, I put off reading this for quite a while because I didn't think the premise sounded very appealing: I didn't think I'd be able to relate to a character like Gerald and am already convinced that reality TV is not a good thing. But there is so much more to this book than that. Character and situational complexity so real that relating and agreeing aren't even relevant issues. This is top-notch writing and storytelling that will engage anyone. Gerald's story is definitely worth experiencing.

JCLBeckyC Aug 28, 2015

Gerald, a seventeen-year-old who starred on a reality TV show when he was five, recounts the trauma of that experience and how it leaves him feeling angry and misunderstood. Reality Boy is a work of fiction that tells the awful truth about Reality TV. But, just as you begin to lose faith in the human race, the author does something magical: she shows us how it's all going to be OK. For Gerald. And for us. Highly recommended for teens and adults.

litriocht Jan 23, 2015

Coming back to add some comments about this book, years after having read it. Am currently reading King's latest title, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, and am struck by how brave both books are in their explorations of family dynamics. While Glory O'Brien's History of the Future delves into the lingering grief experienced after a family member commits suicide, Reality Boy deals with a family member who is manipulative and psychotic. When you are a child in a family with this kind of "problem child," what can you do? What power do you have when the parents refuse to acknowledge there is a problem?

LibraryK8 Jun 24, 2014

Fans of A.S. King get exactly what they want, well rounded characters, a unique story and magical realism. It is a hard sell to readers, but worth every minute spent inside the pages.

KateHillier Apr 18, 2014

If you ever wondered what happened to those kids you see on those Nanny 911 type shows, this shows you what could be.

Gerald was on a show called "Network Nanny" when he was five. He became infamous for a particularly gross thing he would do in an effort to get someone to pay attention the fact that he wasn't the problem in the family. We go back to see the show being filmed and see how much is staged and how much is edited out to make it look like that Gerald is the problem when he probably causes the least.

Now seventeen, Gerald suffers from anger problems, still lives in a horribly toxic environment, takes special ed classes, and the real problem in his family has everyone in their grasp.

It's unforgiving, depressing, traumatizing, but still hopeful as the girl from register #7 at his job gets a name that he enjoys using. You're left with an open ending but enough that you can see that there's a chance for Gerald despite his reality tv show past.

JCLAmyF Dec 23, 2013

This book cements A.S. King as one of my all-time favorite authors. What a fantastic writing style, sense of character, and plotting. Nothing is predictable in King's books, and she doesn't let her characters or plot revel in angst.

JCLDennisR Oct 12, 2013

What happens when the reality show doesn't need your family any more?

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JCLChrisK Aug 29, 2015

"The older I get, the more I think maybe I belong in jail."

Gerald has anger control issues. He's had them for as long as he can remember. Anger has always been his defining emotion. His retreat, his solace, his catalyst for action. His self-image.

"No matter how much anger management coaching I've had, I know that if I had a gun, I'd shoot Nichols in the back as he walks away with his beer. I know that's murder and I know what that means. It means I'd go to jail. And the older I get, the more I think maybe I belong in jail. There are plenty of angry guys like me in jail. It's, like anger central. If we put together all the jails in this country and made a state out of them, we could call that state Furious.

. . .

"The longer I stare at myself in the mirror, the more I want to punch myself. Right in the face. I want to break my nose. Split my lip. Bite a hole in my cheek. I want to beat some sense into me. Instead, I punch the toilet stall door. It swings in and slams into the toilet-paper holder. My hand is numb. But not as numb as the rest of me."

Gerald has punched faces before, many times. He has bitten a hole in someone's cheek. Jail is not an unrealistic expectation for Gerald. It all started, in his mind, when he was five. When he wouldn't stop punching holes in walls and throwing violent tantrums that sometimes led to calls for the police, Gerald's mom wrote to a reality TV show, Network Nanny, for help. The Nanny and her television crew showed up. Gerald got madder, and decided to escalate his expressions of anger the only way his five-year-old logic could imagine, by taking craps in inappropriate places--on the kitchen table, in his mom's favorite shoes, on his sister's bed. All of it was caught on camera, and he's been known ever since as "The Crapper."

"'Schadenfreude,' she says. 'It means when people take pleasure in others' pain or humiliation.'

"'Oh.' Jesus. I had no idea there was a word for what I've suffered for my whole life. It's like being asthmatic but no one telling you until your seventeenth birthday the name for why you couldn't ever breathe."

Except Gerald's issues started well before reality TV entered his life when he was five. And they aren't really his issues. No, there are much bigger forces controlling Gerald's crappy life than his anger and his crapping, but it's taken him 12 years to begin to start seeing that. Now, at 17, he's trying to figure out if there might be more to his story than FS and a future in jail.

LibraryK8 Jun 24, 2014

Imagine having your worst moments caught on film, and your best moments edited out. When he was five years old Gerald Faust’s mother auditioned the family for Network Nanny, a reality tv show. In one-hour on network TV, Gerald became a national phenomenon for taking a dump on the family’s kitchen table. Twelve years later, Gerald is still haunted by the actions of his five-year-old-self. Ostracized at school, bullied by his older sister and left alone by his parents, Gerald attempts to control his anger through boxing workouts and trips to Gersday (an imaginary land where everything is made of ice cream and all things go his way). Gerald meets Hannah, a troubled writer who he knows is trouble, but Gerald cannot resist the possibility of making a connection with someone. Gerald and Hannah share their lives, through flashbacks to Gerald’s days on Network Nanny, and the two decide to run away and join the circus, a goal they realize is childish and most likely pointless, but they mean to make a point. They won’t take this crap anymore.

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