Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
ARC provided by publisher
I've worked in "reality" television, so I know there's a lot of manipulation in creating what the audience sees.
Sometimes it happens during production by influencing what participants are doing or saying. Sometimes in happens in post-production by changing context during editing. It's usually done to build a narrative arc, to streamline the messiness of real life into a half-hour or hour format.
But at least on the shows I worked on, it was never done maliciously. Reality Boy, however, imagines a show that does. Gerald was on a Supernanny-like show when he was five years old and became known as The Crapper because he defecated all over the house, including the dining room table. Millions of television viewers think he's the problem child.
What the camera doesn't show is that Gerald's psychopathic sister, Tasha, brutalizes him and crapping is his way to get attention. All he gets is the wrong kind of attention. The show comes and goes, but the stigma of being The Crapper stays with Gerald. Worse yet, Tasha stays, continuing to terrorize Gerald.
Now Gerald is sixteen years old, full of rage that has him going to anger management, and his parents are still clueless about Tasha. Gerald tries to control his anger by boxing, but he figures he'll likely end up dead or in prison in a couple of years.
Then he meets Hannah, a girl who has problems of her own and who sees beyond The Crapper. How these two people gain strength from each other to change their lives is a compelling read.
I recommend Reality Boy to readers who enjoyed Tangerine by Edward Bloor or Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick.