Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Summary: 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?
*Requested an ARC from the publisher*
My Thoughts: Analee, In Real Life is Milanes’s latest YA Contemporary and one you don’t want to miss! From exploration of anxiety & finding confidence, fake dating, family, a possible wedding on the horizon and so much more Analee’s real life gets a bit more complicated!
Janelle Milanes is easily one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary authors! After gushing about her debut, The Victoria In My Head, it was no surprise that I would of course pick up her next book!
I’m so filled with emotions right now, I’m not entirely sure how my review will turn out, but Analee, In Real Life has easily become another one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary books and I HIGHLY recommend you pick it up! I had so many expectations for how Analee, In Real Life would turn out and I’m happy to say it exceeded all of them and surprised me in so many ways!
Milanes delivers her plots in ways I never expect & I love that so much and does it through a hilarious and relatable first person POV!
So Analee Echevarria’s life goes in very unexpected directions: her mother died 3 years ago due to ovarian cancer and is still grieving, her father met someone very different from her mother and is set to marry her (& Analee’s grandparents don’t approve), & her ex-best friend Lily abandoned her when she needed her most!
To escape, Analee plays an online RPG as Kiri a night elf! This character is everything Analee isn’t, but aspires to be: brave, outgoing, never afraid to take chances!
Though she isn’t exactly alone, because she plays alongside warrior Xolkar, who in reality is Harris. They’ve never actually met (with Analee living in Florida & Harris in Seattle), but they talk about so many things, some random, some personal (about family), etc.
And Analee knows she has feelings for him! But she questions whether it can even work, considering they’ve never met.
Not only that, but Analee isn’t exactly all for her father marrying Harlow. She does yoga, is extremely health food conscious, and has asked Analee to write a speech for the wedding, which is only 3 months away!
School isn’t any easier either. Analee doesn’t have any friends and still remembers the times when the popular crowd, like Matt McKinley (who Analee knows is a genuinely mean person) made fun of her name and for years, her now ex-best friend Lily Nadarajah, has moved on to hang out with the popular crowd, including the most popular guy & girl in school Sebastian Matias and Chloe (who are no longer dating).
But things get a bit interesting when Analee and Seb get partnered up for an in-class bio project. Analee is convinced he doesn’t like her all that much and is even more miserable knowing she’s stuck working with him.
Things begin to change however, when Analee overhears Seb trying to get Chloe back. So, Analee offers a bit of advice and Seb comes up with a plan, for Analee to get a chance at having Lily be her friend again, while Seb wins Chloe back!
The two hatch a plan to start a fake relationship!
Now as she’s prepping for her dad’s wedding, trying to figure out who her loved ones felt further away, & getting closer to her soon-to-be stepmom Harlow, & 8-year old step-sister Avery, this fake relationship with Seb forces to step out of her comfort zone and learn more about herself along the way!
Analee was a spectacular main character, though she is shy, when she has something to say, over the course of the story she gets the courage to speak her mind! She cares so much about her friends and family, that she does put them first before herself, but she is an incredibly wonderful main character & I loved follow the story through her!
She’s a fan of gaming and is obsessed with the Harry Potter books!
There were so many incredibly developed aspects to this book from the themes like exploration of family, love, loss, and growth! The writing, the plot, the diversity, the list goes on & on!
Over the course of the book, Analee learns more about Harlow than she expected and begins to understand just how much she misjudged her. Alongside Harlow, the same goes for bubbly Avery, soon to be Analee’s little step-sister. The two throughout the story, teach Analee so much about accepting, changing things for the better, and being more open to new experiences! ❤ Their dynamic was so beautifully explored and I loved Avery’s sass 😂😂 (she definitely gave Analee the push she needed in certain situations).
I loved Seb & Analee’s relationship SO MUCH!! I don’t usually read many books with fake dating, but this one takes the top spot!! It starts off with them creating a fake backstory, Analee going to his soccer games, Seb bringing her lattes in the morning (which was the cutest (´▽`ʃƪ)💕). Then its days at the beach, going to the movies, even Seb making Analee take part in library reading for Harry Potter!
Soon, their fake relationship turns into something more! I just adored the development of their relationship and how each of them grow with each other’s help!! Their banter, how they talked to each other about their families, & how Analee always talked about his “annoyingly” brightly colored shoes we’re the best 💕
And I don’t want to spoil it, but the friendship & especially development between Analee & online friend, Harris definitely took me by surprise, but I loved it so much!
Analee has lost her former best friend and her father. With Lily, we get backstory to their friendship and slowly figure out what caused it to end. I related to Analee with her friendship so much, because I’ve certainly had my fair share of friendships where the person moved on. Throughout the book, I was just rooting Analee on & could understand how difficult it feels to re-connect with a former friend who doesn’t seem to want to be a part of your life! It was heart-breaking to see how Analee (well after) noticed the little things from her comments about being popular, getting a boyfriend, etc. that Lily took the wrong way, when Analee figures out about Lily & bad-boy Colton, & how Analee’s mother’s death was a lot for Lily to handle (considering how close they were too).
As with her father, Analee has sensed his distance since her mother died and although he’s still there, she felt with Harlow & Avery coming in to their lives, that he remained distant (in a different way).
She also struggles with grief/loss as she finds herself constantly reminded of her mother with Harlow in the picture, the upcoming wedding, and the overall delivery of the dynamic between her & her mother weaved throughout.
Not only that, but Analee has gotten so used to feeling alone that she has this outer shell around her & knowing how she’s been left in the past, her anger, fear, etc. can come out in ways she doesn’t mean. I could relate to that at times, but seeing her take up meditation and talk more with her family & Seb was so beautiful to read about! (I cried 😭💕💕)
Additionally this novel also focuses on growth as Analee learns more about Harlow, she gets out of her comfort-zone with Seb, thinks more about friendship as a whole, Lily & becomes comfortable with letting go of the past and moving forward!
Janelle Milanes is a queen at 1st person POVs!! Through Analee we learn so much about her, the people around her, her hobbies, she & the entire cast, become so incredibly real, that everything about Analee, In Real Life just– comes to life!!
There’s also so much focus on family and parents as they play such a central role in this story! Especially when it comes to the discussion of relationships, sex/sex-positivity! Family is very present as is Analee’s dad & Harlow, which so amazing to see in YA Contemporary!
*Also I loved that although we know about Analee’s past + current dynamic with Lily and what she knows about Chloe, there is absolutely NO girl vs. girl hate! Analee wants to be so much like them because they are many things she knows she isn’t, but it was great to see when they did interact, it wasn’t out of hate, jealousy, etc. mostly it was out of misunderstanding (especially with Lily).
I loved all the amazing characters from Analee, her dad, Harlow + Avery, Seb, Chloe, Lily, Harris, etc. Alongside that, Milanes always makes her casts so diverse & inclusive, which is amazing:
We have Analee, her dad & mom who are Cuban (w/ Analee being Cuban-American), Seb who is 1/2 Dominican & Puerto Rican), and Lily (Indian-American).
And similar to Victoria, I loved seeing Spanish throughout the book & mention of platinos, & overall the diverse Latinx rep throughout the book<3 ❤
Analee, In Real Life also just ends in a way that took me by surprise (broke my heart a little), but I loved it so much!! It felt so realistic and I didn’t exactly feel sad, but hopeful for Analee and her future with her family, school, relationships, etc.! The plot just had me so immersed from start to finish, I was so sad when I reached the last page!
Overall, I highly recommend checking out Analee, In Real Life it made me feel so many different emotions, & captured my heart!! ❤
Analee, In Real Life is a spectacular YA Contemporary! With a comedic and delightful narrator like Analee, this relatable coming-of-age story explores family, love, friendship, loss, acceptance & so much more! From Online RPGs, to a diverse cast, unique and memorable plot that goes in ways you don’t expect, Milanes’s latest YA Contemporary is a book I highly recommend!