July 10, 2013

Latest Read: You Look Different In Real Life

Here are the basics ...
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Publication date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received book at BEA (Thanks!)

Summary: The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture or that Justine would be the star. Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment. But when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: I am not (completely) ashamed to admit that I used to watch Laguna Beach and The Hills (at least the seasons with Lauren Conrad). But as fascinated as I was by their drama, there was always this nagging thought in the back of my mind - why the hell would you sign yourself up for this? To have your life broadcasted on TV for everyone to see? It seems like torture! You Look Different In Real Life depicted what I imagined must be really going on in the heads of those reality show kids. Sure, it comes with its perks (money! fame!) but there has to be a cost, at least emotionally.

Justine is one of the Five At documentary stars. The premise was to film the same five kids every five years, starting from when they were in kindergarten. She, along with Felix, Rory, Nate and Keira, have already done Five at Five, Five at Eleven, and now Five at Sixteen is about to start production. What struck me about the premise and the characters was that the story went so much deeper than just five mini-celebrity kids of a well-known documentary.

Justine was the breakout star. Known for being funny and spontaneous, everyone's expectations of what she must be like at 16 are pretty high. But Justine feels so far-removed from the girl she was at 11. She's lost, unrecognizable to herself most days and sad she isn't where she thought she'd be. And let me tell you, you don't need to be 16 years old to understand those feelings. I connected to her and her personal journey almost immediately.

But the heart of the story isn't Justine herself. It's Justine's relationship with each of the four other kids and all their individual stories as a whole. Each person has their own compelling struggle and the most compelling of all is this undeniable connection they feel to one another. Were they once friends? Yes. Are they friends now? Not really. Could be they be again? That's a major reason why I kept turning the pages. I wanted them to be. The author did an amazing job of portraying the tiny steps forward (and backward) they all took to get there. Not just towards friendship but also at being at peace with themselves.

(No) reservations: None!

Do I recommend?: I do! I was unprepared for how honest this book was. I had been sort of expecting your typical reality show shenanigans but instead I got a very real look at a group of teenagers who will make you laugh and sympathize with them.

Happy reading!

4 comments:

  1. This sounds really good!! I watched Laguna Beach and The Hills too, I think everyone ages 13-25 at that time did :) I knew it was all fake, but I was really sad when the last episode of The Hills basically just came out and said it was. I wasn't 100% sold on this book from reading it's syopsis, but you're review makes me think it's something I am gonna like :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really love the premise of this novel. While I'm not the biggest reality TV fan (I only tend to watch Top Chef, The Amazing Race and Survivor) I've always been fascinated by the motivations of people who appear on shows like The Bachelor, The Real World, etc. There seems like such a high possibility for embarrassment and misfortune that I can't ever imagined being induced to appear on such a show myself. I would really love to read this book as I think it would be interesting to see how their participation in such a show shaped each of them differently. It really sounds like the sort of novel I would enjoy! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been wanting to read this for a long while now; need to get on it! I'm not a reality show fan by any means, but I do love the consequences of being a reality star. There are very few "happy endings" it seems, so it's interesting to see what happens to people after the show has ended and the camera turns off. This book has seemed right up my alley since I first heard of it! Glad it lived up to its premise!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It really makes me happy that you loved this book! I wasn't sure that I would want to read it, but it sounds like the author manages to weave a believable and heartfelt story. I love that you were able to relate to Justine's struggles, as that means they are certainly things that probably all of us go through. Can't wait to read this myself!

    ReplyDelete