Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

November 22, 2013 Book Reviews 16 ★★★★

Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer CastleYou Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Published by Harper Teen on June 4th 2013
Pages: 355
Format: eArc
Source: Edelweiss

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,Β You Look Different in Real LifeΒ is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.

Reality TV is – depending on what side of the fence you stand on – either great entertainment or the very worst of media’s many guises. Either way it can’t be denied that there is something fascinating about getting an insider look into people’s lives. The mundane becomes the must-see.

YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE tells the story of five kids, first filmed at six, then eleven and now the producers are back to catch up with the cast at 16. In the five years since Five at Eleven aired things have changed for Nate, Felix, Rory, Keira and narrator, Justine. Can the five formerly close friends come together to give the world the insight into these mini celebs’ lives they crave so dearly for or will they fade into obscurity like so many reality stars before them?

This book was not at all what I expected. I thought this would be filled with cat fights and back stabbing, scenes created for your entertainment type scenarios and instead I got a wonderful coming of age story about friendship and love and I simply adored it!

There is a psychological “phenomenon” these days that has come with the advent of social media called FOMO — Fear of Missing Out. Social media while it has become a means for communication and friendship has also become a source of anxiety and resentment as people compare their behind the scenes to other people’s highlight reels.

YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE highlighted the problems of advertising your life for public consumption whether as the star of your own show on E! or simply the star of your peer circle. What face do you put on? What is your story? How much do you gloss over and what image is presented?

The truth or something beautiful?

I loved Justine, our MC. The star of the previous two movies, at sixteen she is not where she thought she would be when she looks back at the spunky, sassy eleven year old with all her big plans. Aware now of how many aspects of her and her friends lives were manipulated for entertainment purposes she’s wary of wading back into the fray. Unspoken tensions with the other members of the group also weigh heavily on her mind and her anxiety takes on a physical manifestation in the form of stomach cramps which I thought was interesting how the adults brushed aside her pain if it meant a better scene or storyline.

Her interactions with the rest of the group were at times equally hilarious and heartbreaking. Justine is clearly the glue that connects them all, without her the cohesive nature of their story falls apart. In the five years since the last movie each of the group has gone through their own metamorphosis, Nate the popular swimmer who, on the rare occasion he locks eyes with Justine seems to cut through the walls she’s built to protect herself. Keira, the little girl who had her mother’s departure screened worldwide, looks upon the world with the cool eyes of one whose popularity seems assured. Rory, always the “strange” one has found her niche and Felix, the one who desperately wants to be understood but above all noticed.

What starts as a simple bonding exercise in the woods to shake off the cobwebs and get some footage on camera turns into a road trip of discovery as the five take off in search of Keira’s mother and in the process rediscover both who they are and what they truly mean to each other. This is a book about connecting and reconnecting and I loved how the friendships played out. Castle created a book filled with realistic and wonderful characters that I couldn’t help but want to know more about. Quiet and unassuming, the relationships both platonic and romantic play out over an ordinary weekend of extraordinary things.

Unexpected and captivating, YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE was a sweet and wonderful coming of age story that I will remember for a long time and I personally cannot wait to read more from this author.



16 Responses to “Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle”

  1. Oana

    It’s the first time I hear about this book, and it does sound worth-reading. I never quite liked reality TV, mainly because most shows are too heavily directed and I get bored of them easily. It would be interesting to read this, as it sounds really different from what I’ve been reading lately.

    • Danielle

      It’s fun to get a behind the scenes look at how shows like these are scripted and the characters were great! If you’re looking for something different definitely keep it in mind!

  2. Jessica@Lovin' Los Libros

    Oh this sounds really good! I love these coming of age type contemporaries! I’m glad you ended up loving the MC- books like these are hard to read if you can’t stand the narrator/MC! I haven’t read a Castle book, but I shall be putting this on my TBR! πŸ™‚

  3. Alise

    Ooh, this one sounds like a book I could really get into. A great MC can really make a book and the rest of the characters sound great too. I love stories of friendship πŸ™‚

    • Danielle

      Me too, I love friendship stories and this one has flown under the radar but I think it deserves more recognition! Thanks for stopping by Alise x

  4. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I have this book, but I still haven’t read it. It sounds absolutely wonderful, Danielle and I like how it’s actually teaching readers something about television. I also like how there’s no backstabbing and that stuff that you usually see on reality TV shows. A story heavy on the friendship sounds perfect for me.
    Lovely review, Danielle.

  5. Giselle

    Huh this is definitely a cool premise and one that we can pretty much all relate to. Social media has definitely changed a lot and I find a lot of the time it’s all a competition. Justine sounds like a fun MC too once that I could easily connect with! I hadn’t really checked what this one was about before today so I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for it now it sounds like a book I’d really enjoy!

  6. Emily @ Forever Literary

    I am excited to get around to this one and I am glad to hear more positive things from you. It’s great that you loved to the main character because, while I care more about complexity than connect-ability, relating to the protagonist is more important in contemporaries about someone dealing with personal struggles. I hope the author’s other books don’t disappoint you!

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