Wednesday, December 10, 2014


who are you (1)

Review of Who R U Really? By Margo Kelly

Review Written By Bea Smith, Middle School Librarian,
Fort Worth, Texas ISD

Fourteen year old Thea is a typical, middle class teenage girl. She’s well behaved, makes good grades, and comes from a loving, stable family. She feels her parents are too overprotective, as most teenage girls do.  She has a falling out with her crush, and to distract her and keep her out of their hair, her brother’s friend introduces Thea to an online role playing game. When Thea confesses to her mother that the altercation with a boy at school got physical, her mother signs the both of them up for self-defense classes.  Her mother talks to the instructor and expresses her concerns about Thea’s growing fascination with the role playing game. The instructor assures her mother that playing the game is a harmless pastime.

          Then Thea is contacted by Kit, an older boy who is also playing the game. Gradually, Kit manages to separate Thea from her friends and family as he plays on her insecurities and her need for acceptance. But is he who he says he is?
          Thea and her friends seem very real to me. I spend my days with teenagers and I could easily see these characters as my students. Thea was sympathetically portrayed as an intelligent, kind girl who was just na├»ve enough to put herself in real danger by taking Kit’s word that he is the person he portrays himself to be online. The pacing of the book is even, and the climax is riveting. I couldn’t put the book down.  It is just the right balance of tension and suspense to be scary, but not too scary or graphic.
          As a school librarian, I am required to teach cyber safety. I am continuously amazed at how well my streetwise students can parrot the safety guidelines, yet how easily they fall into traps as we walk through the simulations in our lessons. The scariest thing is that Thea’s parents do everything correctly. They eat dinner together each night, have family night once a week, and monitor her activities. Before letting Thea play the role playing game, her father goes online to make sure it is acceptable. When Thea’s mother walks into Thea’s bedroom and sees Thea minimize her screen, Thea’s mother makes Thea maximize it so she can see what Thea is doing. Thea’s parents monitor her email and her cell phone. Yet Kit, who is older, manages to give Thea the advice and the means she needs to deceive her parents and put herself in deadly peril.

          The side plot about Thea’s best friend and her battle with anorexia is a little distracting, but it is a good device to further separate Thea from her support network. Eating disorders are a real problem with adolescent girls.

          I was interested to learn that Margo Kelly was inspired to write the book when her own daughter was nearly abducted by a cyber-predator.  Now, mother and daughter give talks together to educate the public about cyber safety and potential pitfalls in even seemingly innocent situations.

          Margo Kelly is an excellent writer and I will definitely read more of her books and put them in my school’s library. Tweens and teens should read it—and so should their parents. 

who are you

Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly

Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.

Praise for WHO R U REALLY?:

"Kelly's first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message." --Kirkus Reviews

"Suspenseful novel that's guaranteed to give readers goosebumps--particularly as events heat up toward the end. A good choice for families to read together." --School Library Journal

"Who R U Really? is a fantastically creepy book that is surprisingly realistic and totally engrossing.... Once I opened it, I couldn't close it. Who R U Really is a satisfyingly unique YA thriller that left me guessing up until almost the very last page.... This book is very realistic and I really enjoyed the writing style." --Tempest Books

"Based on actual events, the story should be required reading for all teens." --VOYA Magazine

Excerpt of WHO R U REALLY?

When Tim’s eyes, bluer than an Idaho sky, met mine, my mind turned to mush. He towered
above everyone else at the bus stop, and on this cold January morning he looked cuter than ever
with his bomber hat and rosy cheeks. He shoved his sidekick, Josh, jokingly, and a cloud of
white air escaped Tim’s mouth.

My best friend, Janie, whacked me on the hip. “Omigosh, Thea. Here they come. Smile.”

Her words bounced in rhythm with her black ringlets. She adjusted her new fluffy snow white
parka, and even though it had a hood, she would never smash her perfect curls simply to stay
warm. The crisp air made the tip of her nose red, but the rest of her face remained alabaster
white. We’d been best friends for years, and at fourteen, having a friend made the ninth grade

Janie hoped Josh and Tim would ask us to the Winter Solstice dance, but I just hoped to
speak to Tim without sounding like a complete idiot. Tim walked in our direction with Josh right
on his heels. They stopped in front of us, and everyone else hovered to watch the show.

“Thea,” Tim said. I wanted to reply, but no words came.

Josh approached Janie, and I fidgeted with my favorite fuzzy pink scarf.

“Jan-eee,” Josh said, dragging out the last syllable of her name. He eyed her up and
down. “You look like a giant fat marshmallow.” 

Margo Kelly
Margo Kelly, Author

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

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1 comment:

Margo Kelly said...

Thank you for your wonderful review of WHO R U REALLY?! :)