Snapshot Review: Analee in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Title: Analee in Real Life
Author: Janelle Milanes
Series: N/A
Pages: 416
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 18th 2018

TW: scene of sexual assault (forced/unwanted kissing)

      “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?”

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      “Slowly, unexpectedly, Seb links his hand with mine.
      There’s no turning back now. I don’t have to look at anyone to realize the enormity of Seb’s move. There are literally gasps that echo through the hall. I hear his name repeated in whispers, so frequently that they blend together into one long hiss.”

  • Analee – There was so much about Analee that I found relatable. She’s an introvert who finds it easier to share her feelings in a journal than out loud. She’s still dealing with the loss of her mother and how that loss reshaped so many of her other relationships. She has social anxiety and is not comfortable being the center of attention. Analee never refers to herself as fat (which might leave something to be desired when it comes to fat rep), but she calls herself chubby and has self-esteem issues, but I loved her entire journey throughout the novel which focuses on self-love.
  • Analee and Seb – These two are very different from one another, but I loved their dynamic all throughout the novel. I loved that Milanes shows them becoming friends first before exploring anything romantic between the two.
  • Familial relationships – I always love when contemporaries have such a family-focused story and Analee in Real Life is so good at navigating the MC’s relationship with her father, his fiancée, and her soon-to-be stepsister Avery. I loved that none of these relationships remain stagnant, but grow as a result of the MC’s growth.
  • Positive stepmother-stepdaughter relationship – Analee’s evolving relationship with her soon-to-be stepmother, Harlow, was my favorite to read about. Harlow is the complete opposite of Analee’s mother and has changed her dad as a result. And Analee can’t help but resent her for it. For example, Analee can’t help compare Harlow’s vegan meals to her mother’s Cuban cuisines. In the end, the two come to understand each other more.
  • Realistic romantic arcs – The fake dating trope is one of my favorites and although it can be predictable, I just love the tension that seems to underscore these relationships. I don’t want to give too much away, but I love that Milanes writes both Analee and Seb in such a way that they feel flawed and real. They make mistakes and hold themselves back. The ending of the novel felt truly empowering from Analee’s POV because it prioritized where she was in her journey and not necessarily where they were in their relationship.

  • Seb in the beginning – While I ended up really enjoying Seb as a character, the beginning made me pause. I was immediately put off by his dynamic with his ex-girlfriend where he didn’t seem to get the message that she wanted space.
  • Analee and Lily – One of the reasons Analee agrees to fake date Seb is her desire to win back her ex-best friend, Lily. I was disappointed that there were not more scenes between the two of them.

Janelle Milanes’s Analee in Real Life will delight fans of the fake dating trope, but shines brightest with the MC’s personal arc that’s rooted in self-love, bravery, and personal growth.

★ ★ ★ ★

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