Parents' Guide to

Guy in Real Life

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Sweet, utterly believable romance/fantasy explores identity.

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GUY IN REAL LIFE accomplishes a lot in the guise of a teen romance. It's a heart-meltingly adorable look at first love, sure, but it's also an intriguing exploration of how to figure out your identity and show it to the world. It points out gender bias and double standards and enters fantasy realms where monsters are slain and heroes are made. Seamlessly weaving these elements together are the rock-solid narrative voices of two very different, and very believable, teen characters; kids will easily relate to Lesh and Svetlana as they take turns telling the story. Getting inside both of their heads shows us that people are more than what meets the eye.

Kids who don't like fantasy may feel the fantasy passages bog the whole thing down, but try not to skim those sections: They're a big part of how the characters learn who they are -- and who the world thinks they are -- and why or whether that matters.

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