As a fan of The Victoria in My Head, I was looking forward to Milanes follow up.
Analee, in Real Life explored some of my favorite things - friendship, family, and grief. It even featured some romance, but this was solidly a book about Analee working through her feelings and finding herself.
As anyone would, Analee took her mother's death quite badly. She cocooned herself in grief, sort of holding most people at arm's length. The only place she found some comfort was when playing her MMORPG. There, she had a friend she could confide in, and was a fierce warrior. In real life, Analee was crippled by her low self-esteem, grieving lost her best friend, mourning the emotional loss of her father, and struggling to accept her new blended family.
I always adore a good fake-dating "showmance", but it was more interesting the way this one was used in the book. It wasn't really about the romance, but rather a catalyst to push Analee in the direction of change. Being with Seb opened her eyes to many things she just wasn't seeing. I enjoyed the friendship and the romance that bloomed between them, but I really appreciated the way his friendship put her on her journey back from grief. It was a long journey, but Analee gained perspective on her friendships, Avery, Harlow, her mom, her dad, and most importantly, herself.
This book was also a lot of fun. The banter between Harrison and Analee, her outings with Seb, and many Harlow's daily doings made me smile. However, I will not lie, that I was sort of sad with the way a few things went down there towards the end. It's not that I don't think Milanes made a big statement for Analee by making those choices. I just would have liked it better if we could have gotten a similar result in a different way.
Overall: I enjoyed this story, which was heartbreaking at times, but also very heartwarming.
*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
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So that was an unexpected ending, I feel cheated. It was however true to life and in retrospect somewhat foreshadowed.
This is mostly a 3 star read as the characters outside of Analee/her family were underdeveloped including Seb.
I realise the story was about Analee finding herself but I think I would have preferred a more developed contemporary that touched on some of my points above.
Ultimately I went with 4 stars because I personally felt it when a certain truth was revealed so I guess I really was going through a journey with Analee.
More of a 3.5/5
I wasn't too interested in the fake dating plot and I don't know if I ever really came around to liking Seb, but I really appreciated the parts about Analee dealing with her grief, her anxieties, and her relationships with her family and her friends.
3.5 stars - I liked this book overall, liked the fake dating between Seb and Analee and Analee's relationship with her stepmom developing. However, I wasn't a fan of the ending, which I found to be very out-of-character for Seb.
I'm not really sure where I found this book - definitely on some list somewhere, and I placed a hold for it through Libby, and one day it was on my shelf to be read. That said, I had a remarkably hard time putting this book down! While I read a lot of YA, I tend to gravitate more towards SFF than "real life" fiction, but boy was I glad I didn't pass this one by! Analee's own struggles resonated with how I felt as a teenager in high school - we may have been coming from different backgrounds and encountered different challenges, but there is something about Milanes' writing that strikes a chord and makes you feel "yes - I've seen this before, I know what she's going through, yes yes yes."
Can I say how refreshing it is to read a YA romance-ish novel with a young woman of colour as the protagonist? Milanes writes really explicitly about the challenges a young Latina girl would face, especially as her father starts seriously dating a white woman and changing their home life to better "match" their new family. Also, I don't know if Milanes has a background in fanfiction, but the fake dating trope was an IMMEDIATE hook for me.
Anyway, if you are looking for a rather lighthearted but ultimately very touching book that will hook on to your brain and not let go, I recommend checking out "Analee, in Real Life."
This had all the makings of a fun YA novel and some very compelling characters, but it couldn't decide what kind of book it wanted to be: it started out as a teen romance (complete with fake dating) and then tried to switch to being a teen self-empowerment saga halfway through, and the shift really didn't work for me. Either the self empowerment plotlines needed to get woven in and emphasized much earlier or the romance needed to resolve differently.
One of the greatest feelings in the world (at least if you’re super bookish) is finding a new author whose books you love. I read Milanes’ first two books pretty much back-to-back, and they were both so excellent in both similar and different ways. Analee, in Real Life has all the nerdiness, banter, and strong narrative voice of the first but it ends up taking things in a completely different direction. This book’s admittedly slightly less #mything, but it’s still just so damn good, and I’m super happy these books are in the world.
Something I praised a lot about The Victoria in My Head was the sheer tropetasticness of the book, as well as the strong feel of realism to it. The former absolutely applies to Analee, in Real Life, but it’s a bit more fanciful. Like, let’s be honest: fake dating happens in real life probably 1% of the times it happens in novels. FYI that’s not a complaint because I adore that trope.
There are strong To All the Boys I Loved Before vibes to this one from a plot perspective, with a quirky nerd girl ending up fake dating a hot, popular guy she very briefly thought was cute but then abandoned for a different crush. It’s not the same story by any means, but I do think that if you liked To All the Boys, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. Analee and Lara Jean face some similar emotional hurdles and the romance dynamics are reminiscent. I feel like I’m making this book sound derivative, but it’s really not; it reminded me in a good way, not a bad one.
Analee has an amazing, snarky voice, like Victoria did, but Analee’s so much darker and grumpier. Having just reread the first two Jessica Darling books, I can’t not make that comparison too. Like JD, Analee’s hugely judgmental of those around her, though perhaps not quite as aware of it as Jessica is. Analee longs for connection but puts down anyone who tries to get close to her, and dear lord is it relatable. She knows she’s not the easiest person to get along with but she mostly attributes her solo status to other people being awful or to her body not being the right kind of body, rather than her own actions. Obviously, all things are potentially a factor, but this book is all about Analee needing to own up to her own behavior too.
At the start, Analee’s nurturing a serious crush on her online bestie, Harris, who she’s never met in person or seen a picture of, struggling to get over her best friend dumping her in favor of a popular boyfriend, and trying to figure out how she feels about her father’s pending remarriage. Most important, though, is her continuing grief over the death of her mother a few years before. Watching a friend begin going through grief now, I think it’s so important to have YA showing the way that the grieving process really never ends, and this book does that really nicely. With all this stuff going on, combined with the hormones of being a teenager, it’s understandable that Analee’s rather irascible.
Because in fiction-land, this stuff happens all the time, she ends up fake-dating Seb with the goal of him getting his perfect ex back and her getting her ex-bestie back while maybe also making Harris jealous. It’s a perfect plan, right? One thing I really enjoyed about the execution of this was that they really did practice kissing and stuff, and also that Seb accepted her being mostly uncomfortable with PDA, even though that was some of the point.
The ending, I’ll admit, was not personally my favorite, and I did think it was the weakest part of the novel in some ways, though I was still really happy with it overall. I do wish more time had been spent on the emotional recovery of Analee’s friendship with Lily (and Lily’s romance with Colton too actually), because I feel like that kinda got glossed over rather than being the emotional high point it could have been. Similarly, Harris was definitively underutilized, but I did like that his involvement did not happen the way I would expect (romance is all about tiny trope flips). Oh, on the other hand, I really loved the resolution of the family plot; I thought it was really sweet but in a realistic way, not a romanticized unbelievable way.
Thoughts on the rest of the resolution in spoiler tags because spoilers.
You guys, I super super want a sequel to this book. It’s so good but also I’m not done with Analee’s story yet. It’s not incomplete as it is but I. Want. More.
You can see my full review here!
*I received an eArc of this book from the Publishers through Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*
Things just started to spiral in all aspects: characters, conflict, romance, etc. For a Contemporary, the book dragged quite a bit... but I guess it also didn't help that I wasn't a big fan of the love interest.
I don't know if it was the author's intention to make him indecisive, but the ending gave me mixed feelings. I liked the way Analee handled it, but then again, my affection for her went downhill over the course of the story. Analee was relatable in her insecurities so the message of acceptance of yourself as you are was nice. Yet, her emotions tended to flip from charmingly snarky to unexpectedly passive-aggressive at the drop of a hat. So while I appreciated her, I didn't really like her. I'm just a bit disappointed.
08/12-- Just keep letting me down
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