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Guy in Real Life Audiobook, by Steve Brezenoff Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Steve Brezenoff Narrator: MacLeod Andrews, Arielle DeLisle Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2014 ISBN: 9780062324344
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It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning. Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.

But they don't.

This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other's lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn't belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren't in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play—at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends—and the one person who might be able to show us who we are underneath it all.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I suppose Steve Brezenoff will have to grow up one of these days and forget what it was like to be sixteen, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen too soon—at least not to the part of him that can write a book like Guy in Real Life.”

    Pete Hautman, National Book Award–winning author of Godless

  • “In a voice full of authentic grit, poetic verve, and real emotion, Steve Brezenoff weaves a tale that feels both wholly original and instantly classic. Another fantastic book from a writer I envy and admire.”

    Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist for Story of a Girl

  • “The gaming motif adds an intriguing layer, as Brezenoff uses it to explore issues of gender identity. Unhappy with Kugnar, his brutish warrior avatar, Lesh creates an elfin version of Svetlana and begins to enjoy playing the game as her, even when that means attracting virtual male attention…Has he created this character because he wants to be with the real Svetlana or because he wants to be her? There is, he realizes, no simple answer.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Sulky metal head boy meets artsy gamer girl. Awkward teenage love ensues…The juxtaposition of live, real-time role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons against the detached anonymity of MMORPGs, plus a playfully thoughtful exploration of gender identity and politics, gives the novel depth and heart that will appeal to audiences beyond the gaming set. This is not the teen love story you’ve read a thousand times before.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Brezenoff successfully immerses readers in the characters’ progression from awkward acquaintances to adorably besotted teens. In addition to alternating between their perspectives, he also spends time within both the digital and analog RPGs, exploring sexism and gender stereotypes, while highlighting the way that both types of games are often driven by a novelistic kind of storytelling (even if some gamers skip past those scenes). An idiosyncratic romance that offers plenty of cultural food for thought.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Brezenoff’s novel works on many levels, and its depth and humor will appeal to many readers. Told in the alternating voices of Lesh, Svetlana, and their online personae Svvetlana and Kugnar, the story deftly navigates the real and virtual worlds of the characters…Their sweet-natured romance isn’t overly saccharine and offers a charmingly awkward look at first love, and the supporting characters, particularly Svetlana’s friends, are well developed and just as quirky as the main protagonists.”

    School Library Journal

  • “The overall effect of the novel…is of marvelous fantasy sequences interspersed with the messiness of real-life romance. Lesh’s predicament—that he loves becoming Svetlana as much as he loves Lana—is presented sweetly and believably. Like his easy evocation of gender-free characters in his Brooklyn, Burning, Brezenoff deftly handles one teen’s experience of gender dysphoria.”


  • Guy in Real Life is a remarkably original, addictive novel that illuminates the roles we play for others and, ultimately, ourselves. A must-read for anyone who questions who they truly are, and who they could be.”

    Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone

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About the Author

Steve Brezenoff is the author of the young adult novels The Absolute Value of -1, which won the Independent Publishers Book Awards Gold Medal in 2011, and Brooklyn, Burning, which won the 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Medal and the 2012 Silver Moonbeam Award. It was also named one of the best books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and included on the list of Best Fiction for Young Adults for 2012 by the American Library Association. Steve lives in Minneapolis with his family.

About the Narrators

MacLeod Andrews is an actor, voice actor, and Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator who earned the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2018. He has starred in a number of independent short and feature films and is a member of the Rising Phoenix Repertory Company in New York City.

Arielle DeLisle is an Earphones Award–winning narrator, voice actor, and commercial producer. She has recorded more than sixty audiobooks, including dystopian young adult titles and Michael Wallace’s Righteous series.