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You Look Different in Real Life

Review

You Look Different in Real Life

Justine is pretty famous, but neither in a stuck-up-movie-star way nor in a pregnant-in-high-school kind of way. Actually, Justine and four other 16 year olds were first chosen to be the stars of the documentary, Five at Six, when they were in kindergarten and then again five years later for Five at Eleven. Now the directors want to make another documentary to show who these kids are in high school. Unfortunately, Justine feels like she won't live up to the reputation she set for herself in the first two documentaries, as the one in the spotlight. She doesn't have a hobby, any interests or even a boyfriend. Will she give her consent to participate this time around?

"YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE is ultimately a story of self-identification, finding your passion, coming to peace with your past and seeing people beyond their appearences."

Eventually, the pressure from the other four teens --- not to mention her parents and directors --- force Justine agree to do this last film. However, there is much more baggage between these teens than Justine's personal fears; failed friendships and on-screen betrayal have shaped their lives beyond what the audience could see in theaters. Consequently, the first few scenes shot at the high school seem forced and aren't usable for the film. In an attempt to save their project, the directors try for something new, and take Justine, Felix, Rory, Nate and Keira to a bonding retreat to help them open up. What actually happens goes well beyond anyone's expectations.

Jennifer Castle gives the "reality TV" and "famous teen" trope a twist by writing Justine's story. It is a common teenage uncertainty whether you have become (or on your way to become) the person you want to be. Do you have hobbies you're passionate about? Are you popular? Do you have a significant other? But because Justine, Felix, Rory, Nate and Keira are under a lens of scrutiny that goes beyond just theirselves or high school, Castle is able to explore their insecurities in a grander scale. Not even to mention their having to deal with seeing themselves on screen (voluntary or involuntary) for most of their life --- something I definitely cannot do.

YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE is ultimately a story of self-identification, finding your passion, coming to peace with your past and seeing people beyond their appearences. I really enjoyed piecing together the connection between each five of the teens, who know each other in ways no one else can. In a time when social media is making it increasingly difficult to hide anything from the public eye, this book deserves a spot on your nightstand.

Reviewed by Liz Kossnar on June 14, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life
by Jennifer Castle

  • Publication Date: May 3, 2016
  • Genres: Young Adult 13+
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0061985821
  • ISBN-13: 9780061985829