Who R U Really? [Review]

Who R U Really by Margo Kelly

Who R U Really?

Margo Kelly
Blue Ash, Ohio: Merit Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-1440572760, hardback

239 pages, $17.99

Reviewed by Ashley Garmire

Ahh, to go back in time. But really to just go back to high school and not date that guy; try harder with that friend; just relax and realize a lot of drama was not that big of a deal; make better choices….ahhh. This is something I have been talking a lot about at my house lately. It’s always good to have discussions as a family and when you have books like Margo Kelly’s new book Who R U Really?, there is plenty of material to drum up table-talk.

I am not part of the true intended audience (which is roughly the 12-18 age range) but having read the story, told from the point of view of teenager Thea, I felt like I could go back and once again slip into those uncomfortable, angsty discussions I always had with my friends about fitting in and finding a guy. Here’s the twist, because there’s always a twist, unlike my teenage-hood when passing anonymous notes was pretty much the extent of anonymous admirers, Thea deals with a different kind of relationship – an on-line relationship in a social networking game (created by Ms. Kelly but no doubt inspired by games such as World of Warcraft and CityVille, etc.). It is the inclusion of cyber-dating, internet safety, and what it means to “come of age” in a virtual world that makes this book a very good fit for its intended audience.

Although this is Margo Kelly’s first book, the voice of the main character feels age appropriate and compelling. The style should visually appeal to a teenage audience as the vast majority of the story is told in dialogue form between Thea’s screen name “ImmortalSlayer” and “Kitsuneshin” her mysterious on-line friend. It is a quick read despite its 239 pages and should be an easier one for teens with less reading experience and shorter attention spans.

Margo Kelly is a local Nampa author and doesn’t shy away from using landmarks from the Treasure Valley. Some names are changed while others are not. Readers who are familiar with the Nampa-Meridian area should not have any trouble identifying the locations where the story takes place.

This book brought up a lot of questions for me to talk about with my child when the issue of internet safety and relationships develops. What does it mean to protect your children on-line? What does over-protective look like to a teenager? How do you dispel misconceptions that pop-up for teenagers about self-worth and value, but still relate to how hard it is to grow up and become your own person?

This book is sure to spark a dialogue between parents and teens as well as tell an appealing cautionary tale to a younger audience and would be a good addition to any middle school, high school, or public library.

Ashley Garmire is the Teen & Tween Specialist at Nampa Public Library.

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