What Is Realby Karen Rivers
Dex Pratt's life has been turned upside down. His parents have divorced and his mother has remarried. When his father attempts suicide and fails, Dex returns to their small town to care for him. But heís not prepared for how much everything has changed. Gone are the nice house, new cars, fancy bikes and other toys. Now he and his wheelchair-bound dad live in a rotting rented house at the back of a cornfield. And, worse, his father has given up defending marijuana growers in his law practice and has become one himself.
Unable to cope, Dex begins smoking himself into a state of surrealism. He begins to lose touch with what is real and what he is imagining. And then there are the aliens...and the girl-of-his-dreams...and the crop circleÖ .
Read an Excerpt
My life used to be a glass pitcher of white, pure, clean, delicious milk just bubbling over with goddamn wholesomeness. My entire life. My whole family was shiny and perfect, snipped right out of the stereotype catalogue: Mom, Dad, me, Chelsea, and our loyal dog, Glob... I'm seventeen now, and that's all gone. Seventeen doesn't sound old. But it is. Trust me.
I'm seventeen now, and that's all gone. Seventeen doesn't sound old. But it is. Trust me.
Meet the Author
Karen Rivers is the author of fourteen novels, mostly for young adults. Her books have been nominated for a number of awards, including the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize and the Silver Birch Award. Karen lives, reads and writes in a yellow house near the beach in Victoria, British Columbia, and can almost always be found online at www.karenrivers.com..
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Dex narrates the story of a month of his life, plus a few pages about "Now" and a bit of the past. His wheelchair-bound dad has Dex growing pot in their basement and Dex's story is pot-induced, forcing the reader to wonder if Dex's reality is, in fact, the truth. At times the story reads like a screenplay. There is plenty of language which makes this more appropriate for older teens. I just couldn't get into this book.
Lost in the pot-induced haze in the cornfields behind his house, Dex Pratt cannot tell the difference between reality and fiction - or even past and present and future - any more. He smokes until he forgets everything, until nothing makes any sense anymore - and somehow that makes that makes the most sense of all. When he begins to obsess over the new girl and a crop circle mysteriously appears, Dex knows that something might be wrong. Yet he can't seem to clear his head long enough to figure out what that might be. I have to admit that I felt as confused about What is Real as Dex was throughout the entire book. The screenplay-like beginning threw me off, and when it reverted back to regular prose I still didn't quite follow the story as easily. If Karen Rivers was trying for surreal, I think she nailed it on the dot - unfortunately, this did not work for me and I struggled to connect with Dex. He seemed to bounce from past to present, regular prose to screenplay, hypothetical people to real people, whenever he felt like it - and I couldn't keep up. The best way I can describe What is Real is that it is definitely different from other books, a little too "out there" for someone like me. I'd be interested to see how others have taken to this book because I feel like I missed some crucial element that makes this book "click" with me.