Monday, October 29, 2018

BOOK REVIEW | Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Title: Analee, In Real Life
Author: Janelle Milanes
Series? No, Analee, In Real Life is a standalone novel.
Pages: 416
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: I received an e-galley of Analee, In Real Life via Netgalley. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

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?


Analee, In Real Life is Janelle Milanes' second published novel, after her debut Victoria in My Head. Milanes draws on her experience as a second-generation Latina that grew up in America for her newest novel, which follows Analee, a Latina teenager struggling with grief, anxiety, and insecurity. With her father's marriage upcoming (two years after her birth mother passed), Analee's grief rears its head. Analee devotes herself into a online role-playing game, where she is in love with another gamer, Harris. Analee agrees to date Seb, one of the most popular guys in school that runs in the same social circle as Lily, her ex-best friend. Both enter into the fake relationship for selfish reasons, Analee to get Lily back and make Harris jealous, and Seb to ignite jealousy in his recent ex, Chloe, whom he still holds a candle for. What could go wrong? 

Though there is a fake-dating plot in this book, it provides another avenue to interrogate Analee's body insecurities, grief, and social anxieties. As someone who does have bouts of insecurity and social anxiety, and as someone who has lost two relatives this year, Analee really hit me.When reading the book, I could clearly see how Analee's insecurity, grief, and anxiety negatively influenced her thinking and actions. This book is a good reminder that some of our though processes can be damaging and to take care of ourselves. I may or may not have been reading this in public and silently cried a couple times. It was a great experience for me, and felt very cleansing. 
Footage of me in a public library trying to not draw attention to myself as I read Analee, in Real Life
Just knowing what people generally like at the end of contemporaries, people might not be too happy about how everything shakes down in Analee. I, for one, thought that the ending was really refreshing, and the right way to go. Keep in mind that this is a book about a person's personal growth, not necessarily her love-life. The ending of the book reflects what was important, Analee's mental health and figuring out everything. If it had an ending that I think many would have wanted, it would have felt out of place with the whole book.

I didn't realize this when I was reading Analee, In Real Life, but this has serious To All the Boys I've Loved Before vibes. Both Analee and Lara Jean have diverse identities racially and ethnically, and are own voices. Both mothers have passed away, though Analee's was more recent, and have fake dating plots! Seb and Peter are a little similar as well, but I would say that Peter is the far better of the two. It's safe to say that if you liked or loved To All the Boys I've Loved Before, you'll probably enjoy Analee, in Real Life. I would say Analee is more serious that To All the Boys, simply because of the protagonists. Analee is much more insecure than Lara Jean, but I wouldn't be surprised if people make that connection. 

I don't have much else to say about Analee, In Real Life. It was just that good. Family, grief, insecurity, friendships, etc. all were a major focus. I love when my contemporaries are messy, and Analee, In Real Life was. None of the characters are perfect, and the ending reflects that. The ending is a little open-ended, and I loved that the book didn't make out high school to be the end all be all of a someone's life. 

With that, I give Analee, in Real Life
5 out of 5 Flowers!



  1. This sounds so good! As soon as you said 'All the Boys I've Loved Before vibes'... I AM NOW COMMITTED. I just rewatched the Netflix version and IT'S SO GOOD. And now basically I'm on the hunt for more cutesy contemporaries and this sounds perfect. Lovely review, Genni!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. YAY I'm glad I convinced you!! I just rewatched it too. I think Peter is pretty one-note in the movie, and I wish that they highlighted his complexities a bit more. But back to the book...yes you should definitely read this! I don't know if cutesy is the right word though. It gets a little heavy in some parts, but is nicely balanced.

      Thanks for visiting Laura!

  2. I enjoyed the "showman" in this book too much, because I was a little heartbroken at the end. I get what Milanes was trying to do there, but did she have to set the whole thing up in flames? I still enjoyed the story.

    1. Oh yeah, I did too. I downplayed it in my review, because I understand why Milanes made her decision and like it, but I was pretty disappointed. But I don't think it went up in flames. I think there's a little opportunity there. It seems like Analee is starting to figure everything out, and that the "showman" just needs to play some catch-up. I feel like their a couple that could reunite years later, possibly after college and soul searching.