Cover image for Guy in real life
Title:
Guy in real life
ISBN:
9780062266835
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
386 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Summary:
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 the roles we all play'at school, at home, online, and with our friends'and the one person who might be able to show us who we are underneath it all.
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Summary

Summary

From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning comes Guy in Real Life, an achingly real and profoundly moving love story about two teens that National Book Award-finalist Sara Zarr has called "wholly original and instantly classic."

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 Björk 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 the roles we all play--at school, at home, online, and with our friends--and the one person who might be able to show us who we are underneath it all.


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-After some late night drinking at a heavy metal show, high school sophomore Lesh Tungsten literally runs into senior Svetlana Allegheny when her bicycle crashes into him. What begins as an accident evolves from wariness to friendship, especially after Lesh discourages an unwanted admirer of Svetlana's. They soon discover their mutual interest in gaming-he, online, and she, role-playing-and as they navigate their differences, the teens learn that the roles they play aren't as important as who they really are, especially when together. Whether reading it as a brief glimpse into the world of gaming and MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), a romance, or a tale of self-discovery, Brezenoff's novel works on many levels, and its depth and humor will appeal to many readers. Told in the alternating voices of Lesh, Svetlana, and their online personae Svvetlana and Kugnar, the story deftly navigates the real and virtual worlds of the characters, and while the gamer-speak can be a bit much, it gives the audience a better understanding of who Lesh and Svetlana truly are. Although they are flawed and have traits that are unlikable, they come across as authentic teens who will have readers rooting for them as individuals and as a couple. Their sweet-natured romance isn't overly saccharine and offers a charmingly awkward look at first love, and the supporting characters, particularly Svetlana's friends, are well developed and just as quirky as the main protagonists. For fans of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl (St. Martin's, 2013), gamers, and readers in-between.-Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Ever since sophomore metalhead Lesh Tungsten collided with geeky 17-year-old outsider Svetlana Allegheny on the street, he can't get her out of his head. When she begins to join him at lunch to thwart a classmate's lecherous advances, focusing on anything but her becomes nearly impossible. Meanwhile, Lesh is being drawn into a multiplayer online RPG, but the avatar Lesh most enjoys playing as a buxom elf he names Svvetlana-doesn't exactly distract him from her real-life counterpart, who is struggling to keep her Dungeons & Dragons-style gaming club afloat. Brezenoff (Brooklyn, Burning) successfully immerses readers in the characters' progression from awkward acquaintances to adorably besotted teens. In addition to alternating between their perspectives, he also spends time within both the digital and analog RPGs, exploring sexism and gender stereotypes, while highlighting the way that both types of games are often driven by a novelistic kind of storytelling (even if some gamers skip past those scenes). An idiosyncratic romance that offers plenty of cultural food for thought. Ages 14-up. Agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

Sophomore metal-head Lesh meets geeky and artistic senior Svetlana, and, intrigued by her, does exactly what any hardcore gamer would do: he reproduces her as an elven character in a MMO. Told from the alternating perspectives of Svetlana, Lesh, and their gaming equivalents, this novel presents teens with acutely realistic voices navigating social groups, relationships, and the realities within fantasy worlds. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Lesh wears a black trench coat and listens to heavy metal. Svetlana embroiders her flowing skirts and blasts Bjork. Lesh, with his bad-boy persona, appeals to Lana in a way she would have never anticipated. And Lesh's attraction to Lana is so intense that he creates an elf princess, Svetlana, in a MMO game with Lana's same long blond hair and lithe body. Soon Lesh finds that he can't wait to play the game and assume a female persona. In the swift, action-­filled chapters that describe Lesh's game, Lana grows in strength and integrity and gains an admirer. Meanwhile, IRL, Lana copes with her disintegrating after-school gaming club, which plays tabletop RPGs. As with Lesh's online-gaming adventures, Lana's game scripts play out in engaging stories. The overall effect of the novel, then, is of marvelous fantasy sequences interspersed with the messiness of real-life romance. Lesh's predicament that he loves becoming Svetlana as much as he loves Lana is presented sweetly and believably. Like his easy evocation of gender-free characters in his Brooklyn, Burning (2011), Brezenoff deftly handles one teen's experience of gender dysphoria.--Colson, Diane Copyright 2010 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

STEVE BREZENOFF'S THIRD young adult novel, "Guy in Real Life," begins when two teenagers literally collide one night in St. Paul, Minn. Lesh Tungsten, a metal-head with a heart of gold, steps in front of a bicycle ridden by Svetlana Allegheny, an artsy-craftsy dungeon master given to talking to herself in French, and the encounter leaves a deep impression on them both. Svetlana, because she is furious with Lesh for causing her sketchbook to fall into a puddle; Lesh, because Svetlana looks "like an angel." Grounded for coming home drunk that night, Lesh joins an online role-playing game to pass the time. Starting as a crude, violent orc, he is bored until he begins again as "Svvetlana," a character he creates to resemble the real-life Svetlana - albeit taller and bustier. Though she has no useful game skills, her "bouncy rack and great legs" quickly earn her friends among the other players. Meanwhile, Lesh and real-life Svetlana bond in the school cafeteria when he drives away an unwanted suitor. Lesh is immediately smitten with this quirky, wholesome girl. As he falls deeper in love, he tries to reconcile his feelings for her with his friendship with fellow metal-heads like Jelly, a girl who seems to be Svetlana's opposite. She swears, smokes and is sexual rather than sentimental. She fools around with Lesh and then dumps him when she suspects his lust might be devolving into love. Svetlana, in contrast, says things like "Graham cracker crust!" when she wants to curse, and actually swoons under duress. As their relationship progresses, Lesh continues gaming as Svvetlana, and his use of the character feels increasingly like a violation: He even allows another player's character to kiss her. His secret is dramatically outed when an ardent fan of the online Svvetlana tracks down the real Svetlana and corners her at her after-school job. The ruse is over, and Lesh must contend with both his best friend and his girlfriend knowing that he is a guy in real life, but a girl on the Internet. "Guy in Real Life," struggles to be about both gaming and gender. Like Lesh, however, its message is well intentioned but confused. It asks, "What does it mean to grow into a man?" and answers the question with binary gender roles. Svetlana is Lesh's concept of an ideal girl: elegant, feminine, spiritual, sensitive; he takes on her identity in the virtual world because he sees her as the opposite of the unsentimental and tactless orc Lesh considers the default male persona. But Lesh is pushed to the brink of his gender only because he lives and plays in a world that seems archaic in its ignorance of gender nuances. Moreover, it is peculiar that the novel is about girls and gaming, but not girls in gaming. In a recent study, the Entertainment Software Association determined that 48 percent of gamers are female. But in the novel, there are only two kinds of people online: guys, and guys pretending to be girls. At one point, Svetlana asks Lesh, "Do you want to be with me, or do you want to be me?" And although Lesh may not want to "be a woman," to "wear a dress and grow breasts and all that," he does want to have "passion and heart and beauty and a sense of connection to the world." But are such attributes gendered? This is the novel's weakness. It introduces complex gender questions and then never acknowledges how problematic that conversation is. For teenage readers, the most troubling element is likely to be that Lesh never really suffers consequences for his decision to wear his girlfriend's skin - without her consent - while he was learning what he wanted his own skin to look like. Guys (and girls) in real life shouldn't accept this as a happy ending. MAGGIE STIEFVATER is the author of "Sinner," a companion to the Shiver Trilogy; it will be published in July.