Saturday, November 29, 2014

In Real Life by Lawrence Tabak

   Whenever I think about a gamer kid the image of a socially awkward pimply kid comes to mind. Seth (called ActionSeth online) is a gaming and math prodigy from the Midwest. He loves the game Starfare and spends hours playing in order to achieve his goal of turning pro and living in Korea. For all his mental abilities he is awkward in school and  although he has a crush on a pretty girl called Beth he never does anything to show her how he feels.
 Seth's parents are divorced and his brother is a jock college basketball player. Seth lives with his dad, a travelling salesman who seems to love to berate poor Seth whenever he comes home from one of his business trips. When his dad encourages him to get a job so that he doesn't have to go live with his mom (they have an awkward  relationship) he does so at a local pizza parlor. It is there that he meets Hannah, a girl he develops an instant crush on. Hannah seems intrigued by Seth's gaming prowess and academic talent. Seth for his part admires Hannah for her artsy side and free spirit.
Seth had entered a gaming contest where he was beaten soundly by the Koreans. His play attracted the attention of a top Korean gaming team and before he knows it Seth finds himself overseas. Everything does not end happily ever after however and Seth soon finds that the pace of life, his difficulty adjusting and the fact that he misses people back home interfere with his overall play. He must then make some very adult decisions despite the fact that he is only sixteen.
Tabak's book is an in depth look at the life of a teenager who achieves his life's goal early. Some people don't do so until they are many years older and some don't even know what their goal is in life For that I applaud Seth because he was offered an opportunity and he reached out and grabbed it. He did not neglect is studies though so even when things got rough he knew that he had other options. This, I think is the most important takeaway from the novel.

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