Both Kyla and Alex are lost. They feel so alone, despite everyone around them, and don't have anyone that truly understands their uncertainties, fears, and insecurities. Both deal with their feelings in different ways. For Kyla, it's partying and the never ending parade of guys. Alex, an introvert, seeks comfort in ballet. When they meet up in an online chat room, they find understanding and acceptance in each other. But despite their connection online, meeting face-to-face is different, and they find that neither of them are exactly the same as they are online. Can their relationship endure?
Written by Sara Kadefors, a Swedish author, Are U 4 Real was originally published in Sweden and is its bestselling YA novel of all time, and with good reason. Kyla and Alex's characters are full of depth and dimension, from Alex's uncertainties about dancing and wanting to discover his true motivations for continuing it, to Kyla's confusion and her fierce protectiveness and independence. Both Alex and Kyla are struggling with their identities and figuring out who they are and who they want to become. Their efforts and the pressures exerted on them don't always make them the best people, and they continually mess up in their search for acceptance. Both make mistakes, and both learn how to correct them and admit they were wrong, which is one of the most important and endearing aspects of the novel. Kadefors also deal with the issue of coping, and demonstrates how different people can be, despite how they may feel inside.
Despite the writing being occasionally vague and slightly bumpy in spots (which may be a result of how the novel translated into English), Are U 4 Real is a realistic, straightforward, and appropriately and believably complex novel for anyone who has ever felt alone in life. It’s a book about reaching out, searching for connections, and learning how to deal with differences and mistakes. Are U 4 Real? is as genuine as it gets.
Cover Comments: Though I would have expected something a little more serious for the cover of this novel, I do like it. The computer mouse influence is cute, and I like the colors used, though I would argue that it makes the book appear to be more of a light-hearted romance than it is. I don't love the cover, but I like it, and it works just fine.
I also was able to ask Sara a few questions about her book!
Was it hard changing certain aspects of the story so that they would translate well to an American audience?
I didn't change anything myself, the publishing house made the changes. They asked me if I would agree to make the characters American. I understood that if I didn't sympathize, the novel may not be published. I thought: the editors at Penguin know how difficult it is to sell novels from other countries, and if I say yes, young people in the US will read my story. Since making the characters American wouldn't change my story much, I approved.
What is one thing that you would like your readers to glean from your book?
Most of us are very much the same, or at least similar. We have the same kind of needs no matter if we're male or female, living here or there, or are of a certain age—we all want to be loved and respected. Many adults have read my book and say that they, as grownups, recognize themselves in the book. People my age are also thinking about existential matters. We're not so different from each other.
What was the hardest part about writing Are U 4 Real? What was the easiest?
The hardest part was to believe in myself and the story while I was writing it. I had only written one book before and I wasn't so confident with myself. I didn't dare to show the text to anybody during the process because I suspected it sucked. When I finally finished, I was so proud of myself. I hadn't given up although it was tough! The easiest thing was to express Kyla and Alex’s feelings. I felt sixteen again while writing about them. We were like the same people.
Many thanks to Sara, and I hope you all will pick up this awesome book!
Also, follow Sara to her next stop at www.cupcakewitch.blogspot.com!