'Analee, In Real Life' Is Basically 'She's All That' Meets 'Ready Player One' With A Cuban-American Protagonist & You Can Start Reading Now

Janelle Milanes has a new book coming out this fall, and readers who loved the punk-rock heroine of her first novel, The Victoria in My Head, will want to add the release date to their calendar ASAP. Analee, in Real Life is a touching coming-of-age and heart-warming romance with a Cuban-American gamer in the title role. The book comes out this fall, and I've got an excerpt for you to start reading below.

Analee, in Real Life's eponymous heroine has had a rough time over the past few years. Her mom died, her dad met someone else, and her best friend dumped her. Analee only feels like she fits in when she steps into the role of Kiri, her dark elf character in an online role-playing game, and chats with an online friend Harris, a teenager who lives on the other side of the country.

Analee's local social life might change in an instant, however. She gets paired up with Seb, her school's star soccer player, in a lab class, and the two of them hatch a plan to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. All Analee has to do is pretend to be Seb's girlfriend — easy, right? Suddenly, Analee is torn between two cute guys and stretching her comfort zone farther than she ever thought possible.

Analee, in Real Life hits store shelves on Sep. 18 and is available for pre-order today from your favorite bookseller. Keep scrolling to read an excerpt from Janelle Milanes' next novel.

Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes, $19, Amazon

“Do you think everyone’s buying this?” I ask. “Our relationship?”

Seb nods. “It’s driving Chloe crazy. I can tell.”

“How?”

“Look at her.”

She’s talking to Lily, gesturing with her fork before sticking a bite of salad into her mouth. She doesn’t look terribly affected by any of this, but most things in life don’t seem to affect her.

“She seems pretty zen,” I maintain.

“You have to know her. There are definite cracks in the foundation.”

If Chloe’s metaphorical house has cracks in the foundation, mine is a termite-infested crap heap.

“I have a soccer game on Thursday,” Seb says. “You’re coming, right?”

“Ugh. Do I have to?”

“Well, you’re kind of my girlfriend? And Chloe used to go to every single game.”

If Chloe’s metaphorical house has cracks in the foundation, mine is a termite-infested crap heap.

In other words I have no choice in the matter. I cannot imagine a worse way to spend an afternoon than sitting in the sweltering heat, suffering from lower back pain because of the bleacher seats, and surrounded by the people I most want to escape.

“Chloe is a saint,” I mutter. I finish the remains of my cheeseburger, using my finger to collect the bits of stray meat from my plate.

Seb laughs. “Hungry?”

“Not really.” I wipe the rest of my plate clean.

“Do you want some of my fries?”

“Yes.” I have no room to be demure. Burgers and fries are freaking delicious, a rarity in my life these days.

“Here.” He takes a fry and moves it toward my mouth.

“What are you doing?” I ask, pulling away.

He pauses, fry in hand. “I was going to feed you a fry.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.” I have no room to be demure. Burgers and fries are freaking delicious, a rarity in my life these days.

“Yes? Girls think that’s cute.”

“Isn’t that a little . . . infantilizing?”

“Analee. Eat the fry.” And then he practically shoves it into my mouth. “See? Aren’t we adorable?”

I glare at him as I chew.

“Smile,” he reminds me.