Reality Boy – A.S. King

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reality

Gerald, now 16, was a reality show child – and not the cute, talented kind.  In fact, he was on Network Nanny because of his bad behavior.  Now 11 years later, he cannot escape the fact that his town, kids at school, and the nation saw him as a 5 year old who pooped, anywhere he wanted when upset.  Gerald is known as “the crapper”.  As if having the world know your childhood was not bad enough, his violent tendencies continued so now he goes to anger management; he has an overly verbally and emotionally violent drop-out sister; and Gerald lacks friends.  Throw in a tendency to cuss a lot and his rage issues …. and one sees how being a reality-show participant has messed up his life.

Gerald’s positive things in his life – Gersday…. an invention in his mind of daydreaming escapism, it’s another day of the week where he often eats ice cream, visits with his normal sister (who loves him).  He also has a job he likes and a cute girl who soon befriends him.  When a stranger’s hug and sympathy about what Network Nanny did to him causes him to breakdown, the reader more easily relates to him.

Chapters alternate between Gerald living his life and the episodes of Network Nanny that focused on 5 year old Gerald and his 8 and 11 year old sisters, Lisi and Tasha.  Tasha already clearly a psychopath. What’s worse, is Gerald begins to realize that besides his mom favoring Tasha, the psychopath, she clearly ignored Gerald and wanted him in the Special Ed classes to explain his bad behavior so that it was no reflection of her parenting.

Gerald fears he is about to let go on an intense violent outburst and is always trying to keep his anger bottled up, but there are numerous times when it comes out – often scaring those around him.  The struggle of trying to keep well deserved anger within and the new friendship, realizations that his mom was an enabler, and the dream to leave town and “the crapper” image behind is always present … and we root for Gerald getting out from his reality boy image.

A girl, a dream of running away to the circus, and eventually Gerald realizing his worth and demanding changes in his life lead to Gerald living in the moment and letting go of Gersday.  A symbolic swing on a trapeze bar releases him from his shell and there’s quite a lovely ending for him leaving the past behind and having dreams and goals for the future.

14 and older, tons of cussing/fighting/and lots of mentions of sex from the psychopath sister.

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