REVIEW: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
You Look Different in Real Life
by Jennifer Castle
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.
MY THOUGHTS: 2.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I was initially excited to read this book, because it had a really unique premise that is different from anything else I’ve read recently. But unfortunately, events fell flat for me, and the book just left me with an overwhelming sense of meh.
The novel revolves around the five teenagers whose lives have been filmed for documentary audiences every five years. Our narrator, Justine, Keira, Nate, Rory, and Felix have all grown apart since the last doc was filmed. When the directors don’t get enough interesting film, they put all five kids together to try to make something happen–and something does, but nothing that they expected.
I didn’t feel like enough was revealed about each character…I actually felt they were all one dimensional stereotypes. For example, Rory has been diagnosed with autism…so she’s quirky, and Nate is a jock, so he’s handsome, charismatic, and able to pretty much get away with anything. We don’t get to know much of anything past the shallow descriptions of the characters…least of all, Justine. Even though she was the one telling the story, I felt I knew her least of all.
I guess this could be classified as a coming of age or friends reconnecting novel…but just not that much exciting happened. There were “surprises” I definitely predicted, and the ending was just too clean. Maybe I’m just too old to relate, and teens closer to the age of the characters will enjoy this book more than I did.
About the Author
Jennifer Castle’s first novel, The Beginning of After, was named an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” Book. She wrote many unproduced movie and TV scripts before returning to her first love, fiction . . . but she’s still hooked on film and the way we can find and tell our stories with images. She lives with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley.