A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Joey Graceffa's memoir, In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World, recounts the ups and downs of his childhood and recent success on YouTube and television. Each chapter ends with advice that runs the gamut from how to handle your first kiss to how to cope with an alcoholic parent. He also details personal issues such as bullying, coming out as gay, making and falling out with friends, and how to handle fame and online haters. Even though some of the subject matter is tough, Graceffa's bubbly personality makes it an engaging read. The only sexual content is some kissing, and there's little violence. Characters drink (some to excess, but not Graceffa) and swear a little, and his mom smokes, but Graceffa warns readers off it.
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What's the story?
Joey Graceffa details his journey from lead-paint-chip-eating tot (the contamination gave him a learning disability) to YouTube sensation. He opens up about dealing with his mother's alcoholism, the bullying he endured all through his school years, his childhood loneliness, and his eventual discovery of making short films, the latter of which led him to become a YouTube and reality TV star. At the end of each chapter, Graceffa offers advice to readers on how to handle problems or sticky situations. Graceffa's love for and connection to his viewers is clear, and the advice given in the book is useful for kids in similar situations with no one to turn to.
Is it any good?
Effusive and positive, YouTube star Joey Graceffa tells his life story like he's talking to you over lunch. Many people might roll their eyes when they hear of a memoir written by a 24-year-old, but Graceffa does a good job of drawing on his own life to offer advice and life lessons to kids who might struggle with similar situations. He gets real about his mother's drinking problem, his learning disabilities, and coming to terms with his sexual orientation. The language is very casual, with lots of parenthetical asides and exclamation points, which makes it a fun, easy read. Some portions of the book are more engaging than others. The sections on his childhood are riveting, but when he tries to make his first forays into dating sound more dramatic than they are, the narrative falls flat. Fans of his will love the behind-the-scenes stories of his friendships and adventures with other online stars. In fact, this memoir will appeal to his fans, while others who don't know much about him might not find it that interesting. Many kids who feel that other people don't understand what they're going through will connect with this book and find it helpful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online fame. What do you see as the ups and downs of having a lot of your personal life up for public viewing, as many YouTube stars do?
Do you have something you like to do that gives you refuge from your regular life? For example, making movies, writing, drawing, or sports? What about the activity helps you?
Do you think you know media stars even though you've never met them? Do you idolize them without thinking of them as real people, or do you think they're fakes putting on a different face for the media?
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