You Look Different in Real LifeFeatured
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.
Justine may be the center of the story but she's surrounded by a cast of characters who are equally engaging and it's her relationship with them, or lack thereof, that helps her figure out who she really is. The beginning got off to a slow start (for me) but picked up at the midway point and continued steadily until the end which wrapped up nicely. There are important lessons about friendship and acceptance to be learned and there's a romance that blossoms which came as no surprise but didn't feel forced either.
What Left Me Wanting More: I struggled a bit to keep up in the beginning and I didn't really connect with Justine the way I had hoped too. (I felt more of a connection with Nate)
Final Verdict: Intriguing and relevant.
While at a "retreat" at a cabin set up by film makers Leslie and Lance to get more interesting film material, Kiera, after getting information about her mother, who left when she was eleven, steals Leslie's car, phone, and wallet during the night to find her. Justine, Nate, Diego, and Rory then set off the find her along with Leslie's camera. During the journey to find her, Justine videotapes everything, and she tells their story rather than Leslie and Lance. I liked how broken relationships were repaired , especially Rory and Justine's relationship. I also liked how Jennifer Castle somewhat accurately showed how Rory acted with her autism. All the feelings in the book, although sometimes jagged, felt real, and that made the book even easier to read and funner. Kiera's reunion with her mom was sweet yet sad, but perfect. Really, everything was perfect In this book. Nate and Justine's relationship was really sweet and un cheesy, which I appreciated. It was nice to have a steady dose of realism in a world filled with make believe!
But I think that was the whole point. Because as you get into the story, Justine remembers the moments as the film crew is there again, and things all begin to fit together.
One of the themes is that Justine is disappointed, and it comes out as anger. She is disappointed that she didn't live up to what her eleven year old self thought she would be. But then she begins to see what is special about her, what makes everyone special. That we all have a story to tell. It may not be one that makes millions, and then again, maybe we aren't looking at it the right way. But I loved each moment where something clicked for her. Where she realizes that it is okay to change, that she needs to love who she has become, and that she can always start working for another goal again.
Another theme is friendship. How it can change or how some relationships just reach an end, whether natural or by a fight or other circumstances. I liked watching her with Felix, seeing how they encourage one another, how a true friendship should be and what we should strive for. Then there are the others that ended, and how Justine deals with the parts that were her fault.
There was one part near the end where they were all together and had went through a lot, and she said that they helped make each other whole. They realized more about themselves and life by being together.
The characters are all fleshed out well, and the pacing was good. The ending wrapped things up really well and I enjoyed the story overall.
Bottom Line: A refreshing premise that delivers emotion, and shows the lives of characters that were changed both positively and negatively by being on screen.