I have been HORRIBLE about linking up with books I've read recently. And truthfully, I've been pretty horrible about reading anything besides my Facebook news feed, Huffington Post articles, and Buzzfeed lists these past few weeks.
BUT... Joel and I (yes, Alison, he finished ANOTHER book with me) just finished Reality Boy by A.S. King. The story centers around seventeen year-old Gerald Faust who is plagued by a former life as a child star, turning him into a raging teen without friends or a future, ready to explode at any moment.
At the age of five, his parents invited cameras into their home for a Supernanny experience, which only managed to capture parts of his family's epic dysfunction. Instead of revealing the psychopathy of his eldest sister as he hoped, the show focused on his reactive behavior, which included him pooping on things to make a point, giving him the nickname The Crapper, which he could never seem to escape, even twelve years later.
The entire time I read this book, I was reminded of this Jon & Kate Plus 8 scene:
Just when it seems Gerald has no other options, he meets Hannah. Not Hannah Gosselin, mind you, but the girl from his job he's secretly been crushing on for months. The best thing about Hannah is that she sees him, and she doesn't judge him for his past or his label as a special education student. She has enough of her own crap to deal with (pun totally intended), and these two form a bond that they both desperately need.
Due to the language in this book and references to sex (although not at all explicit), I wouldn't recommend this to my middle schoolers, but it's definitely a good read for a high schooler or young adult enthusiast like myself. In some ways, this is a coming-of-age novel where both Gerald and Hannah are desperate to be seen for who they truly are rather than who they are perceived to be.
For this reality TV junkie, this story honestly makes me think more about the things that happen behind the scenes, especially when children are involved, because we never get the full picture. I've often wondered about the result of reality shows on children as they grow, especially when there is much turmoil like in the Gosselin family. I'm always curious to see how the kids are growing up, though I'm not foolish enough to believe I will ever really get a chance to see the truth on camera. Their lives are far too staged for that. But I am curious to know how their show has impacted them, and I suspect we will get glimpses of this as they grow up and become independent from their mother.