November 25, 2013
Reality Boy by A. S. King
by A. S. King
Little, Brown and Company
Everyone knows what Gerald Faust is like. He’s the angry boy who, in a reality show on national television, crapped in the middle of his family’s kitchen table. And his mother’s shoes. And his sister’s bed. Twelve years have passed and that’s still who his classmates see when they look at him, when they are replaying the scenes on Youtube.
And there’s no doubt about it. Gerald was an angry kid. He’s still got the anger management coach to prove it.
But, as Gerald knows all-too-well, reality TV resembles reality vaguely if at all. He was angry. He is angry. It is, after all, a common bi-product of abuse. (I’m not going to go into everything that Gerald experienced, because the way that King reveals it is perfect. I don’t want to destroy her plot in attempting to summarize it.)
At 17, Gerald has a job at the local arena. Who would have thought that a menial job would be something a rich kid would want, but when you can’t count on the adults in your life, a job is an amazing thing. His boss Beth needs him, not only to heft giant bottles of ketchup and do the heavy work but also to have her back when a would-be customer turns nasty. Being needed is an amazing thing.
It is also at work that Gerald meets Hannah, aka the Junk Man’s Daughter. In Hannah, Gerald has met his match. She too is strong willed and misunderstood by the masses who don’t see the smart, funny girl behind the piles and piles ringing her yard. As Gerald discovers, they have even more in common.
If you have never read any of A.S. King’s work, pick this book up. Now. I mean it. Don’t make me come looking for you. As always, her work is part social commentary and part amazingly good read. Do not pick up this book if you have something vital on your t0-do list. Make sure you have a beverage handy and are in a comfortable chair.
I also love King’s work for the reality of her male characters. Yes, I get the irony. Reality tv is fake. No one really knows her character. But her male characters are real and, as the mom of a boy, I appreciate that.
As always with King’s work, there are tough themes in the this book. And remember that these characters are teens. They aren’t always going to do what your mother would want them to do. But they are going to do what’s real.