Monday, September 16, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life ~ Jennifer Castle review

You Look Different in Real Life
HarperTeen
June 4, 2013
355 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

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. And no one could have predicted 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 these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.
After loving The Beginning of After so much, I didn't read the synopsis for You Look Different in Real Life -- even after reading Playing Keira. Sometimes it's nice reading a book without knowing what it's about or what's coming as you read it. After having read Playing Keira, the original, digital short story in the same world as You Look Different in Real Life not reading the synopsis did lead to some confusion, though.

Keira, who is the main character in the short story is a secondary character in the novel. The short story really pulls you in to Keira's story and leaves things with her at a point where things could really go so many ways. You really want to know what happens.

Then, You Look Different in Real Life starts the story at a very different (earlier) point.

When things to reach what happened in Playing Keira, it's actually very nice having that alternate perspective, that extra information on what happened.

I'm happy that part of the tale was not all of the story or even where it started, though. You Look Different in Real Life is a great contemporary, realistic fiction novel. The 'Five At' films are a really unique way to have brought the characters together -- and an interesting stressor for them to be dealing with, both individually and as a group. It allows the dynamic of how they've changed over the past five years -- from eleven to sixteen, when a lot can happen -- to be looked at differently and, perhaps, more than most anything else would.

We find things out about the characters that we wouldn't if there hadn't been cameras there before, or if there weren't again. And they find things out about themselves, as well.

The five characters who are being drawn back together are a pretty perfect assortment. They all have something that makes them different; different from the standard character you'd expect, different from who the other characters think they are, different even from who they think they are. How Jennifer Castle has imagined and written them is fabulous. I love that they all have things that make them real.

They're not perfect, yet they're also, somehow perfect in their imperfections.

The Beginning of After, Jennifer Castle's debut novel was great, Playing Keira was fantastic and now You Look Different in Real Life is superb -- I love them all.


Rating: 9/10


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