Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly
Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends. Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.
Author Guest Post - Teenagers and the Internet
The inspiration for my debut novel, Who R U Really?, came when my daughter was nearly abducted by an online predator.
There are countless—seemingly innocent—online games to play. Regardless if it’s a role-playing game, a racing game, a building game, a chess game, or a social media game … if there is a chat box, there is a danger.
My daughter participated in an innocent online role-playing game where a chat box was necessary to facilitate the game. Because of that chat box, she met a guy. He seemed nice. He seemed to need a friend. He seemed safe. But in fact, he was none of these things.
Over a year’s time, this guy manipulated her and had her convinced they were in love. Not only had they exchanged cell phone numbers, but they had also arranged a time and place to meet … after school and before sports practice. That meant he would have had her for hours before I ever even went to pick her up from practice. Luckily, I discovered texts on her phone before anything came to fruition. But one of the scariest things was that she chose to believe a complete stranger over her parents and her friends. He’d swayed her so well. He was an expert at what he did.
The plot of Who R U Really? offers up several fictional characters for readers to suspect as the online predator, and I won’t give away the details of that story here. But I will tell you that in real life, the predator had convinced my daughter that he was a nineteen-year-old boy who needed a friend. In fact he was about three decades older. And because he lived in another state and because I stopped the process before he harmed her, there was nothing the police could do about it. Of course they investigated, but he had not yet broken any laws when it came to my daughter. Even though the police knew exactly who he was and where he lived, they could only watch him. I hope they still are, because as far as I know, he is still online playing games with kids, trying to lure them away from their parents.
A local police detective said to my daughter, “It is your job to tell others—your real everyday friends that you go to school with—tell them what happened to you, so nothing like this can happen to them.” My daughter agreed. Who R U Really? was born with the hopes of helping others spot and unmask internet predators. But reading a book alone won’t protect you from the dangers lurking on the Internet.
Here are a few tips to stay safer online:
- Only accept friend requests on FB (and other social media) from people you know in your everyday life.
- Be transparent with the people in your real life who love you.
- Trust your parents. You don’t have to always agree with them, but trust that they have your best interests in mind.
- Keep your actual birthdate, phone number, email, street address, even city private. No one online needs to have that personal information about you.
- Most importantly, remember that there is strength in numbers. Use the buddy system, and do not ever meet an online acquaintance by yourself. Not ever. Just don’t even play with the idea.
Who R U Really? is primarily a work of fiction, but the essence of the plot is what happened when my daughter was nearly abducted. There was a chat box in the online game she played, and that’s where the danger stemmed from.
Praise for the book
"Kelly's first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message." --Kirkus Reviews
"Suspenseful novel that's guaranteed to give readers goosebumps--particularly as events heat up toward the end. A good choice for families to read together." --School Library Journal
"Who R U Really? is a fantastically creepy book that is surprisingly realistic and totally engrossing.... Once I opened it, I couldn't close it. Who R U Really is a satisfyingly unique YA thriller that left me guessing up until almost the very last page.... This book is very realistic and I really enjoyed the writing style." --Tempest Books
"Based on actual events, the story should be required reading for all teens." --VOYA Magazine
Author Margo Kelly
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.
Blog Tour Giveaway
1 print copy of Who R U Really? Open to US only Ends 1/12/15