Joey Graceffa may be one of the internet's fastest-rising gay stars, but the popular YouTuber is taking to an older medium -- the printed word -- to give his fans an inside look at the part of his life most people don't get to see.
Garceffa's recently released In Real Life gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the life of an internet star, and sets the stage for the 24-year-old to "share even more" of his life with the fans that helped make him the star he is today.
"It was definitely a very retrospective and introspective process, and it definitely was therapeutic in many ways," Garceffa tells The Advocate of writing the book. "I learned a lot about myself and am so excited for my audience, and a new audience, to read my story and hopefully walk away with something impactful in their own personal lives."
With the book, Graceffa also discusses his own sexuality for the first time in-depth, in the hopes of helping others through similar struggles.
"What excites me most is that people who read this book will be able to relate, and that it will help them in their own lives and things they may be struggling with personally," he says. "I've already gotten such amazing feedback from my fans who found solace in my words; I could not ask for anything else!" --Raffy Ermac
Read an excerpt of In Real Life below, where Garceffa discusses his younger brother:
Chapter 7: Little Squish
YouTube wasn't the only bundle of joy that came into my life during high school. Once Jett arrived, the whole family fell immediately in love with him. He was tiny and squishy and adorable, like a bald little alien wrapped in blankets. But as we got closer to his first birthday, we began to notice that he wasn't developing as fast as other kids his age. He would just stare at us with his big blue eyes, looking lost whenever we talked to him.
My parents took him to see various doctors, all of whom said that he would grow out of it and talk when he was ready, but after another year of silence, it was apparent that there was definitely something wrong. He was finally diagnosed as autistic, which was sort of a relief because armed with that knowledge, we could at least start learning about ways to bring him more into our lives, and vice versa.
Jett wants to respond to people, but he can't. He can understand what we say to him, but is able to answer only with small grunts and pointing. We developed a sort of shorthand communication style, like if I was playing with him and stopped, he'd take my hand and guide it back to whatever we were playing with to tell me that he wanted to keep at it. When my parents bought Jett an iPad, it opened up a whole new world for all of us. He could point at pictures of things in order to tell us what he wanted. Now, if he is hungry for an apple, all he has to do is point at a picture of one.
All of my original wishes about having a little brother to tease went out the window. I only wanted to protect him. (OK, I'd still tease him a little bit. He hated having his hair cut, so sometimes I'd chase him around the house making scissor motions with my fingers. But he always knew it was just a game.) He loved being tickled, and I made up nicknames for him like Jetty and Little Squish.
It's tough to know that I'll never be able to have a real conversation with him. I want to be able to teach him things about life that I have learned, and pass along all of my big brother wisdom. I can still do that to a degree, but his life is going to be very different from mine and my sister's, and the fact is that I know he will probably end up being the one to teach me lessons about getting past adversity. And he is going to continue to teach me about communication for the rest of my life, since I know that we will constantly develop new ways to interact with each other as we both get older. I can't wait to see the man he will grow up to be.
Excerpted from In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World by Joey Graceffa (Atria/Keywords Press)