- Hardcover: 386 pages
- Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen (27 May 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062266837
- ISBN-13: 978-0062266835
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.2 x 21 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,440,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Guy in Real Life Hardcover – 27 May 2014
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"In a voice full of authentic grit, poetic verve, and real emotion, Steve Brezenoff weaves a tale that feels both wholly original and instantly classic. Another fantastic book from a writer I envy and admire."--Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist for Story Of a Girl
"I suppose Steve Brezenoff will have to grow up one of these days and forget what it was like to be sixteen, but let's hope it doesn't happen too soon--at least not to the part of him that can write a book like Guy in Real Life."--Pete Hautman, National Book Award-winning author of Godless
"Guy In Real Life is a remarkably original, addictive novel that illuminates the roles we play for others and, ultimately, ourselves. A must-read for anyone who questions who they truly are, and who they could be."--Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone
"In a first-person narration that alternates between the boy in black and the girl dungeon master, Brezenoff conjures a wry, wise and deeply sympathetic portrait of the exquisite, excruciating thrill of falling in love. This is not the teen love story you've read a thousand times before."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An idiosyncratic romance that offers plenty of cultural food for thought."--Publishers Weekly
"Guy in Real Life is a fascinating, original take on the spaces that exist between who we are and who we hope to be. Virtually everyone will love this book."--John Corey Whaley, Printz Award--winning author of Where Things Come Back
"The gaming motif adds an intriguing layer, as Brezenoff uses it to explore issues of gender identity. Has [Lesh] created this character because he wants to be with the real Svetlana or because he wants to be her? There is, he realizes, no simple answer."--Chicago Tribune
In a voice full of authentic grit, poetic verve, and real emotion, Steve Brezenoff weaves a tale that feels both wholly original and instantly classic. Another fantastic book from a writer I envy and admire. --Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist for Story Of a Girl"
In a first-person narration that alternates between the boy in black and the girl dungeon master, Brezenoff conjures a wry, wise and deeply sympathetic portrait of the exquisite, excruciating thrill of falling in love. This is not the teen love story you ve read a thousand times before. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
Guy In Real Life is a remarkably original, addictive novel that illuminates the roles we play for others and, ultimately, ourselves. A must-read for anyone who questions who they truly are, and who they could be. --Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone"
An idiosyncratic romance that offers plenty of cultural food for thought. --Publishers Weekly"
Guy in Real Life is a fascinating, original take on the spaces that exist between who we are and who we hope to be. Virtually everyone will love this book. --John Corey Whaley, Printz Award--winning author of Where Things Come Back"
The gaming motif adds an intriguing layer, as Brezenoff uses it to explore issues of gender identity. Has [Lesh] created this character because he wants to be with the real Svetlana or because he wants to be her? There is, he realizes, no simple answer. --Chicago Tribune"
I suppose Steve Brezenoff will have to grow up one of these days and forget what it was like to be sixteen, but let s hope it doesn t happen too soon at least not to the part of him that can write a book like Guy in Real Life. --Pete Hautman, National Book Award-winning author of Godless"
From the Back Cover
It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning. Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Bjork and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don't.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other's lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn't belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren't in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends and the one person who might be able to show us who we are underneath it all."See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"But I don't get one thing, and it's a kind of important thing," Svetlana says, and here she finally stops and turns to face me. "Do you want to be with me, or do you want to be me?"
I recently read Guy in Real Life,* by Steve Brezenoff. I seem to have preordered it. I do that a lot, and then can't remember why. Could have been the cover. Could have been a comparison to Eleanor and Park. Could have been that they have similar covers. As I type this, that seems to job my memory. An article on cover trends!
As an unabashed fan of YA, I like a lot of things I'm seeing these days, particularly books about misfits and geeks. Another book I read about a year ago that works for this trend is The Summer I Became a Nerd. "Summer" and "Guy" are very similar in exploring the same gaming world.
Guy went to a surprising place, and did so in a way I could have never predicted. Lemme explain.
In the beginning, "Guy" reads as a simple love story. Lesh and Lana have a bit of a meet cute, and it seems like their obstacle is going to be that he's a headbanger — is that still the term? — and she's a D&D dungeon master.
Where it subtly went a different way is that Lesh, while grounded, gets pulled into World of Warcraft. (Never mentioned by name.) He doesn't find himself interested in playing an orc and gaming with his friend, but secretly creates an elf who looks a whole lot like Lana.
This decision could be chalked up to horny boy creating a hot looking female to stare at, who looks like his crush. And this is maybe what it is, or part of what it is, or how it started. As he games, he finds himself slipping into the role of Svvetlana. (Two v's because regularly Svetlana was already used in the game.) He allows other players to think he's female.
And there are repercussions. See, not spoiling more than I must for this discussion.
I will say that he learns a little of what it's like to be female, including the male gaze, and someone who crosses boundaries in a way that most women either know or fear.
Eventually Lana finds out about his character, and asks the question quoted above. And here, for me, is the biggest similarity to Eleanor and Park. Both endings, in the tradition of The Lady or the Tiger? doesn't answer all the questions, instead asking the reader to reach his or her own conclusion. Lesh answers Lana, to an extent, and is honest, but the reader will be left with questions.
Like any sane person, I have a love/hate relationship with endings like this. Eleanor and Park has me mentally begging for One More Line!
It's clear Lesh likes — like likes — Lana. It's also clear he wishes he could be more like Lana, to what extent is left unclear. Maybe the point is that he doesn't have to know that answer today.
Lana, by the way, is terrific. Intelligent, funny, creative. And even formidable.
I would recommend this book, all the books mentioned, with a recommend in capital letters for Eleanor and Park! What I think might not work for some readers of Guy in Real Life is a lot of time is spent in the various games, and those are written very realistically, with immersion in those fantasy realms. It's cool and creative, and so very relevant about who Lesh and Lana really are, but if you think nothing ever happens on Mad Men, or that there was no point to the "beetle" scene in Game of Thrones, eh.
Of "Guy" and "Summer," I would label "Summer" the more accessible book about gaming and geek culture (and being a girl into these things) if this is foreign territory. I recommend Eleanor and Park to anyone with a soul.**
Still, "Guy" raises interested questions about identity and the search for self. The characters feel real, complex, and engaging. I was blow away by how Brezenoff deftly lead me into the book, and had me read a good long way, before I realized some of the issues he'd brought into play. I have to wonder if some of this is because if I, a woman, play WoW as a guy, no one will give me grief — in fact, I'll get less grief, and be allowed to game in piece* — and the exercise never raises questions about identity. My choice would be met with a shrug, a male playing as a female is looked at as dishonest, and his gender identity and sexuality are regarded with suspicion.
Good choice, you, in picking this book. Allow me to pat myself on the back.
*Guy in Real Life becomes an acronym, G.I.R.L. This refers to men pretending to be women. Some of the "men" undoubtedly would not self-identify as such.
**Okay, there are some people with souls who probably didn't like E&P, so please allow me my moment of hyperbole.
***But like Lesh, love playing a female blood elf. I prefer a hunter to a healer, though.
Lesh (his parents named him after Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead) is a high school sophomore who listens to a lot of heavy metal music, wears black all the time, and pretty much wishes he could disappear. Svetlana, a senior, is an artist who makes a lot of her own clothes, listens to Bjork and classical music, and is the dungeon master of a role-playing game involving a group of her friends.
One late night the two meet cute when Lana literally knocks Lesh off his feet—she hits the drunken boy with her bike while he and a friend are walking home from a metal concert. Lesh is instantly smitten; Lana is irritated that the mishap ruined a notebook with her drawings in it.
The two strike up an uneasy friendship, partially because Lana wants to avoid the son of family friends who has a serious crush on her. Lesh feels Lana is far too good for him, and his friends discourage him from getting to know her, but that doesn't dissuade him. He even allows her to convince him to join her role-playing game group, which causes some unease among her friends.
The thing is, Lesh has a bit of a secret. When he first met Lana he was so obsessed with her that he created a character in her image for an online role-playing game. And maybe he's been playing with the character, and attracting the attention of some other guys online. But how do you bring that up in conversation?
Guy in Real Life is a sweet, tremendously enjoyable read. I really liked both Lesh and Lana's characters, and thought that Steve Brezenoff did a great job getting you engaged in the plot very quickly. Even if you're not into gaming (which I'm not), the book didn't go too heavily into detail so it doesn't have limited appeal. While I found some plot points a little ambiguous, what I liked the best about the book is the refreshing way it looked at gender roles. No characters really fit into a particular stereotype, which is much more indicative of the world we're living in now versus the one I grew up in.
I'm really glad I heard about this book because it hit all of the right buttons for me. Once again, books like Guy in Real Life prove that the world of YA fiction is really thriving right now, and features authors just as worthy of acclaim as those writing "adult" fiction.
G.I.R.L - Guy In Real Life. Meaning a guy that plays a game, like an MMO, as a female character.
This book centers around two characters, Lesh and Svetlana, though I would say it is definitely more about Lesh who gets obsessed with Svetlana, is grounded and so starts playing an MMORPG and creates a character to be Svvetlana, this is where things get confusing. But basically the story follows these two, one a metal head stalker, one an awesome uber nerd, and also there are chapters from the character, Svvetlana(to Vs) that Lesh plays as in this game, that's where I got lost. So, after that amazingly not confusing description let's just jump right in, okay?
I admit going into this book I wasn't expecting these things, I was excepting a fun and hilarious lighthearted contemporary but I'm happy it was more than that. In the middle it did get a little dull and boring mainly when we get to the chapters that are Leshs MMO character at first I thought it was awesome and entertaining but I quickly grew bored of it but it's gets better, and I felt like the sexuality issues that that was supposed to signify didn't really play a big part until the end of the book and I wish they had been addressed sooner but also I could just be dense and didn't realize it when I should have.
- Svetlana - She's an awesome character, she's a nerd and she's weird and I just loved her so much. She's not ashamed to be a nerd and she loves spending her time being a Dungeon Master and sewing and she's is just awesome.
- While a lot of books these days center around LGBT relationships, which of course as a reader and a supporter makes me extremely happy, I really liked this book because I feel like it addressed another side of sexuality that, I at least, don't see very often. I didn't really get it in the beginning, I didn't understand that was what was going on with Lesh, and I don't know it that was just me or if it really wasn't addressed until closer to the end or maybe it's because I didn't see how playing as girl showed that and maybe it should have been addressed in other ways too but basically Lesh plays the game as Svetlana and the question in the end is does he want to be WITH Svetlana or BE her? I really enjoyed this aspect to the book but again I felt like it should have been brought up sooner.
-Roan and Reggie - I loved these secondary characters and only wish they had played a bigger part, you know me I'm all about the secondary characters. =)
-Gaming Club - I enjoyed the gaming club meetings and gaming chapters a lot more than Lesh's MMO chapters. I will say for both of them they were really fun I just got bored, I'm reading a contemporary not a fantasy.
-The game character chapters - Basically instead of these chapters being from Lesh's POV it switches to his characters, like she is an actual elf and going on quests with these other two characters. At first I was highly amused by this but towards the middle I started dreading the chapters and it made me put down the book a few times to do something more enjoyable. I did get back on track fairly quickly and maybe I'm just dense and didn't realize it before but once I figured out the whole sexuality crisis thing this brought up for Lesh I understood it more, I still didn't love the chapters but I got why they were important. I wish there had been more of a struggle for Lesh sooner on and maybe a few less of these chapters but overall it did help show another part of this story in a very unique way. It was just also kind of annoying and boring.
-Jelly - I didn't really get what her and Lesh's other friends had to do with the overall story, I mean I guess it was important but I didn't like it...just....okay?
Overall - It's a really good book that deals with some issues you might not realize right away and it does it well with realistic characters and a highly enjoyable plot. =)
Would I Recommend This? Yes.
What book would I compare this to? The Holder's Dominion
Will I read more from this author(or series)? Yes.
As a gamer (console, PC and table top), this book personally resonated with me. It is pretty tame YA but definitely not lame. Come on now, who doesn't adore pseudo cursing? Sh...ark attack! This book made me snortle more than just a few times.
Lesh and Svetlana are on the cusp of adulthood but still figuring out the details. The characters are genuine and raw, and the awkwardness is consistently palpable. Metal heads and hippies alike should enjoy this one! I sure did.
Full review: [...]