Reality Boy by A.S. King, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 2013
Gerald Faust has a great voice. It’s refreshingly honest, devoid of hope, angry, exasperated, and desperate all at once. Which is what one might expect coming from someone who grew up in a family as dysfunctional and screwed up as the Fausts were. At the tender age of five, Mrs. Faust applies for her family to be featured on a new nanny reality show, thus bringing a camera crew, a fake nanny, and lot of unwanted attention to young Gerald, who expresses his anger and frustration by crapping in very inappropriate places, all caught on camera and aired on television for public consumption. He’s dubbed The Crapper and the moniker sticks no matter how many years have passed since the show aired. All of this has left Gerald angry, friendless, alone, frustrated, and at times violent.
As the story progresses, dark family secrets are revealed and Gerald makes shocking, life-altering realizations about his past and his family. A.S. King has crafted a great novel about self discovery, coming to terms with the past, and learning to live a future free of the bonds of a broken, dysfunctional home.
I have not read about a family this screwed up since Augusten Burroughs’ Running with Scissors or Tawni O’Dell’s Back Roads. This family didn’t need a nanny reality show. They needed several straitjackets, high doses of anti-psychotic meds, and quite possibly some jail time. It’s emotional, gut wrenching, and mind boggling. It’s also a very worthwhile read.