Teenager Gerald Faust has always been angry. The biggest source of his rage is his older sister, who gets all of the attention from his parents and whose psychopathic ways are overlooked by them. As a young child, Gerald took out his frustration by “crapping.” Basically, he defecated everywhere: on the kitchen table, in his mother’s shoes, on beds, anyplace that would get him attention. Gerald and his siblings’ behavior was so bad that his parents called in a reality TV show nanny. Gerald “The Crapper” became an overnight celebrity, and twelve years later, he’s still dealing with the fallout.
“Dating isn't good for Gerald Faust because everyone knows his secrets.
And everyone has psychoanalyzed him.
And everyone knows what his problem is.
And everyone knows he has baggage.
And everyone thinks they know how to help him.
Because everyone believes what they see on TV.
Because no one has realized yet that it's all full of shit.” - Reality Boy
Reality Boy is a uniquely modern book. In the history of the media, reality TV is a recent development. Many families have put themselves on television without knowing the long-term effects that it would have on their children. Even after the show is over, those children’s mistakes will live on forever through the magic of the Internet. Reality Boy is a fascinating book because it examines problems that we are just beginning to understand.
For all of those people who’ve been telling me to read an A.S. King novel, you were right, I liked her writing style. The writing in this book is an entertaining blend of humor, weirdness, and realism. The teenagers actually speak like teenagers. The story is full of swear words and insecure people who rarely say everything they want to say.
My favorite parts of this book are the flashbacks to the time that Gerald’s family spent making the TV program. Those scenes are hilarious and devastating. I love that the author shows the “reality” of reality TV. Gerald’s family calls the nanny program because they desperately need help, but the TV crew manipulates and uses them. They only care about creating entertaining television.
“Maybe most other people are messed up, too. It just wasn't aired on TV.” – Reality Boy
I actually think I would have liked this book more if I had read it when I was a teenager. As an adult, I had a hard time connecting to Gerald and his “My life is the worst thing ever” attitude. He does have a sucky home life, but he brings a lot of misery on himself by obsessing over it. I think I would have liked this book more if I was a teenager because I thought I had a horrible life when I was Gerald’s age. His angst probably wouldn’t have bothered teenage-me at all.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. After I finished the book, the only thing I remembered about Hannah (I had to look up her name just now) is that she likes fish. The romance doesn’t offer anything that I haven’t seen in a hundred other YA books.
Reality Boy is an examination of modern culture. It’s about dysfunctional families, narcissism, untreated mental illness, and the media’s manipulation of information. It’s also about forgiveness and learning to take control of your life. It definitely won’t be my last A.S. King book.