ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published June 4, 2013. HarperTeen. 358 pp.
Sixteen-year-old Justine really doesn’t want to do it. She, along with classmates Felix, Rory, Keira and Nate, made a documentary when they were 6 years old called “Five at Six.” She, and the movie, was a big hit, which inspired the filmmakers to decide they should be filmed every 5 years. She rocked “Five at Eleven,” but is sure she’ll be a bust with “Five at Sixteen.” She feels like everyone else has “done” something with their lives in the past 5 years, but she’s just one big, fat, zero.
She has not become the person she thought she’d be by now, and doesn’t want the whole world to know about it. On top of that everyone hates each other. Felix is her only friend, Nate and Felix haven’t spoken in years and refuse to be in the same air space. Keira ignores everyone, but does talk to Nate, while Nate ignores everyone else. Rory’s autism has gotten worse, and Justine did something awful to her years ago so now they’re not friends. They’re all a mess. No one is ready for filming but, as the saying goes “the show must go on.”
As we follow Justine’s struggle to “become” someone, and begin to find out about everyone else’s struggles and issues, “You look different in real life” takes on new meanings as teens “discover” themselves in the life stories of Castle’s characters. I enjoyed seeing each character walk their paths to freedom from the boxes each had placed themselves in, and know teens aged 14 and older will relate. Sometimes big steps are good, but other times small steps work just as well.