In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child television 'star' struggling to break free of the oppressive anger he's felt since he was five years old. Twelve years later, he's still haunted by his rage-filled youth - which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle - and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts; everyone is just waiting for him to snap. And he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that - until he chooses to create possibilities for himself that he never knew he deserved.
This book follows Gerald, a boy who grew up on reality television as a star of a show in which a nanny would come and try to help the family. He was originally on the show when he was five, when his mother wrote a letter to the show saying that her son had anger management issues and that he needed help. Well, they are accepted onto the show and of course the Nanny comes. Little Gerald isn’t even that impressed-the Nanny on the show isn’t a real Nanny-she gets hints and tips on what to do and say from a real Nanny who watches on the sides.
At a young age, when Gerald got upset, he’d crap in different places. Sometimes his older sister Tasha’s room or even in his mom’s shoes. Just wherever when he’d get frustrated. Well, since this was aired on television, when he got older kids at school and even people who just watched the show began to refer to him as the “Crapper”. Imagine being tormented your while life for something you did when you were 5 and didn’t really know any better. It’s horrible right?
Gerald has two sisters, one of which is absolutely crazy and torments everyone while the other one is more quiet and is always patient and does what she is told. This is the one that Gerald is friends with. As soon as she is old enough though, she leaves and moves to Scotland and Gerald rarely ever hears from her anymore. He’s stuck living at home with his parents and Tasha who dropped out of college and spends her days with her boyfriend being obnoxiously loud in the basement doing things that no parent wants to hear their kid doing.
Gerald works at a stadium where he works at the food stand. He always has to work at his special register, though he’s always had a crush on a girl at another register. Her name is Hannah and Gerald absolutely adores her. Well, they begin to become friends and come to find out Hannah likes him too, so a romance begins to bloom. It’s really quite lovely.
I really enjoyed this book. Yes, this book has probably made me the maddest I’ve ever gotten at a book though. I absolutely hated Gerald’s family, especially Tasha and his mother. His mother approves of everything that Tasha does. Either that or she loves Tasha so much that she really doesn’t care and decides to blame all the crazy on everyone else when clearly Tasha is the psychopath. At times I just wanted to reach into the book and yell at both Tasha and the mother because they were just so horrible and cruel.
On the other hand, I absolutely loved Hannah and how she treated Gerald. She didn’t give a crap about the fact that he was on a tv show (though she does ask lots of questions about it). She just really likes who Gerald is and she doesn’t think he’s crazy. Plus, they’re kind of misfits in their own way. They don’t have really have any friends and they have a lot in common. They have such a great relationship.
So even though this book made me pretty angry, I did enjoy it. Reality TV is such an interesting topic, especially because nobody really knows what exactly goes on when it’s being filmed. The producers only show you what they want to show you; what they think will be the most entertaining and gain the most viewers. Plus, for a book to make me angry I had to have really had a feel for the characters and everything that was going on. I felt so terrible for Gerald and everything that he’d been through. This was my first A.S. King book and I’ll be sure to pick up more A.S. King in the future because I have heard such marvelous things about every book written by her.
“But what’s crazy and what’s sane when everything is possible and yet nothing ever happens?”
“Maybe most other people are messed up, too. It just wasn’t aired on TV.”
Have you read this novel? I’d love to hear your thoughts!