A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Reality Boy by A.S. King (Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants) depicts emotionally damaged 17-year-old Gerald's struggle to overcome his dysfunctional family background. The emotional impact of Gerald's physical abuse by his sister and his parents' incompetence is powerful. And, although violence is a strong theme, it's infrequently decribed and only mildly bloody when it is. Swearing is frequent, with "s--t" and "crap" appearing on nearly every page, and "a--hole" and "f--k" variations appearing almost as often. Adult and teen characters are mentioned drinking and smoking, and narrator Gerald is depicted drinking a couple of times but not to excess. Sexual content is mild, with a few kisses and one or two mentions of nudity, none of which is described in detail. Gerald mentions having sex with his girlfriend, but he doesn't call it sex and it isn't described directly.
What's the story?
The family of REALITY BOY Gerald was on a reality-TV \"nanny from hell\" show back when he was 5, and even with cameras everywhere in the house, the abuse he suffered at his oldest sister's hands failed to come to light. His coping mechanism at the time was to defecate in inappropriate places, earning him the infamous nickname the Crapper. Now Gerald's a 17-year-old junior whose schoolmates continue to make sure he never lives down his past. The abuse at home continues, and as he's gotten older Gerald's mechanism for coping has shifted to an almost-unstoppable violent temper. Despite all the dysfunction, the girl he likes, Hannah, is also interested in him. Little by little they forge a romance and learn from each other how to carve a safe place in this world for themselves and their future.
Is it any good?
Award-winning author A.S. King impressively conveys the sad circumstances of Gerald's life without becoming overwrought or maudlin. King carefully reveals Gerald's tremendous depth of character in his continuing insistence that he shouldn't have to live the way he has, and readers will really start rooting for this troubled teen. Some of the circumstances, especially the spectacularly inept parenting, might seem over the top to adults. But older teens will easily relate to Gerald's emotional honesty in the face of his struggle into adulthood.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about reality TV. Do you think those shows are really made the way Reality Boy shows they are? Would you want to be on a reality show?
Do you think Gerald's parents didn't know what Tasha was really like as a kid or knew but didn't do anything about her behavior? Which would be worse?
Have you or a friend been tormented like Gerald and Lisi were by Tasha? How did you or your friend cope?
- Author: A.S. King
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: October 22, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 15 - 17
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love Coming-of-age tales
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.