I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Steve Brezenoff managed to capture so perfectly my husband in the character of Lesh, from his witty new gamer/hippie/nerd coming-of-age romance, Guy in Real Life.
From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning comes Guy in Real Life, an achingly real and profoundly moving love story in the vein of Rainbow Rowell and John Green, about two Minnesota teens whose lives become intertwined through school, role-playing games, and a chance two-a.m. bike accident.
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 two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.
Again, still puzzling over how much Lesh embodies my husband. They both love heavy metal music. They both play “MMORPGs” – and I still can’t remember what that acronym stands for but basically, games like “World of Warcraft” and such, in which you have a character and you play online with other people. They both have a circle of friends, but are also a bit of a loner. They both snore ridiculously loudly.
Actually, I don’t know if Lesh snores. But my husband sure does. (He thinks the only reason I stay up late at night is to read … But I figure, if his SNORING is going to keep me awake, I might as well read. Right?)
Anyway, my point is this: my husband is not wholly unique in these characteristics, and neither is Lesh. But Brezenoff has so perfectly captured the qualities of a person who embodies these characters that he has most certainly created a believable cast.
And those characters that inhabit Guy in Real Life are really what bring this charming, funny, thought-provoking, and unique coming-of-age narrative to life. I mean, yeah, sure, there’s this adorable, unlikely romance tying the story together — but I really thought the book was more about Lesh and Svetlana, separately, finding their place in the world they live in. Sure, each knows what they like – but that doesn’t always jive with their family, friends, and the real world in general.
As Lesh and Svetlana come closer together, we also see them learn to be more rounded individuals, growing more self-aware and more comfortable in the world around them.
Guy in Real Life is a realistic exploration of what it means to really be yourself, all wrapped-up in a charming little nerd love story. It also might be a really honest look at what my husband may have been like as a teenager, long before I first met him.
Guy in Real Life is in stores May 27th.