Published by Simon Pulse on September 18, 2018
Genres: contemporary, YA Contemporary, YA Romance
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Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.
Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.
So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.
But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?
Here is a mix of the songs that I grew up with being raised in a Cuban family and the songs that I am into right now that have those fluffy contemporary YA feels…
Catfairy’s “Real” Bookish Babbles
Analee, in Real Life, sneaked up on me unexpectedly and I am so happy it did! The year 2018 was the year where so many amazing diverse books were being published and Analee, in Real Life came at a perfect time since it was published during Latinx month in September!
Janelle Milanes’s book was the best-underrated book that I have read in 2018 because it is written by an own voices Cuban American author and the MC Analee is Cuban American! This book took me back to a time when I was a shy emo teenager writing unrequited love to one of the popular jocks in school. I can identify with Analee so hard because as a Cuban American I love that this story is not really about a girl who is Cuban, it’s just about a girl who is just trying to exist in the media-saturated world we live in.
Analee Echeverria is a girl who juggles between two identities. She is an awkward and shy girl at school that prefers to be invisible and she is the kickass online avatar elf hunter named Kiri of her favorite online game. Analee lost her mother three years ago and she struggles with finding her own voice. She wants to be more like the online character of Kiri who always takes action but she keeps holding herself back until she finally decides to stop hiding behind her computer and face the real world.
The character is going through many changes in her life and she prefers to escape reality more than deal with it head-on. Her dad is going to marry a yogi lifestyle YouTuber named Harlow and her best friend won’t speak to her anymore. She finds comfort in her friend Harris who is her online gamer buddy who she has never met and to make things more complicated she has love feelings for him. Analee’s world begins to change when she gets an offer to pretend to be the girlfriend of the most popular jock in school. She finds herself in the process and realizes that she may be more like Kiri the elf hunter than she thinks…
The Meow Casting Call
Meet Analee (Played by Isabella Gomez)
“I’m a crappy excuse for a Cuban anyway. My Spanish is awful. I don’t know proper vocab, only slang words that would get me laughed out of actual Spanish-speaking countries.”
One Day at a Time was one of my favorite shows of 2018 and I have said before that this show is like the Cuban version of Full House! The show gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings and my favorite character was, of course, Elena Alvarez! Elena is a loveable and geeky Cuban American character who reminded me so much of Analee!
Pop Culture Purr-references
Of course, I have to reference One Day at a Time once again! Analee, in Real Life, reminds me so much of this show because there were many times where Analee’s family made me crack up! There is a hilarious scene in the book where the future stepmom of Analee, named Harlow tries to cook a healthy version of ropa vieja for Analee’s Cuban grandparents and the look of horror on their face is classic! The dynamics of the family in One Day at a Time has the similar heartfelt humor to Analee, in Real Life and it gives me all the nostalgic feelings of growing up in a Cuban family myself.
Catfairy’s Glittery Introspections
I love how this book didn’t end the way I expected it to. Analee, in Real Life, is kind of similar in the vein of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series but with a twist. This is a story about a girl who finds herself and gets the people she loves back in her life. Analee finally finds the strength that is inside of her and realizes that life is best lived outside of her online gaming world. Milanes’ book gets 4.5 stars for me because I felt that the relationship between Harris and Analee was unnecessary and I just wasn’t invested enough in that part of the story. Although, I totally ship the relationship that evolved between Analee and Sebastian even though I have very conflicted feelings about the Sebastian character! There were some choices that Sebastian made in the story that really aggravated me but then again he is a high school jock! I can’t expect perfection from Sebastian!
Janelle Milanes wrote the kind of book that was extremely special because it is a book about a Cuban character who simply existed as a Cuban character. This book had all the dynamics about how it is like to grow up in a Cuban family but the book wasn’t really about that. I love that this book just simply has Cuban characters and that it doesn’t just center the writing on their own culture. Books that are diverse are not solely relegated to just hone in on the character’s cultural background, it can just be about the character’s journey whether it be fighting warlocks or crushing on popular boys.