Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: February 4th 2014
by Henry Holt and Co.
There’s nothing real about reality TV.
Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.
-A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review-
Not only is this a wonderful story, but it touches you from many angles: family, romance, friendship, homosexuality, privacy – just to name a few. It’s thought provoking and inspiring, with characters who are just plain genuine.
Chloe (aka Bonnie™) is a celebrity who was literally born into a reality show. This show, reminiscent of Jon & Kate Plus 8, was a real eye opener on how reality TV isn’t reality at all. Not only that, but they’re almost criminal in how they affect children who don’t even have a choice in the matter. Can you imagine your whole life chronicled for the world to see? Your childhood tantrums found with a simple Google search? It’s incredibly frustrating to see these kids’ lives manipulated – more like hounded – by the network, even more so to see their mother’s uncaring attitude towards their psychological welfare. I came to hate her with a passion. I understand needing to provide for your family, but was this really her only choice? And at what cost? I felt like she was doing it for selfish reasons more than not. You will want to slap her regularly while reading this, I guarantee it.
Impressively so, considering the high number, all the characters are fleshed out with personality and depth. Granted, most of the family are kids and thus have minor roles, but you can still feel their energy. We’re put right in the middle of the chaos, giving us a real sense of the weight and intensity of such a full house. We do get intimate with a couple of members, Benton especially, whom I adored completely. He and Chloe share this impenetrable bond that will make you wish you had a brother like him in your life. His fun loving personality and supportive nature makes him downright likeable. Aside from the family, we also have a couple of best friends who are spirited, kind, and understanding. And finally, a love interest who will leave your heart aflutter. Patrick is the escape that Chloe needs. The slice of life that is completely her own. She cares so much about him, though, that she would rather live with a broken heart than have him experience life with paparazzi vultures. While I understand why, I did wish she didn’t take the easy way out so much when it came to their relationship – the last time was one too many, I found – but it does make for some emotional moments.
Ultimately, this story is about Chloe’s longing for a normal life, and this is conveyed with powerful truths about today’s society. We come to understand her deep hatred for fame, for this destruction that is MetaReel. I loved how realistic she was, with simple – yet what felt like unreachable – hopes and dreams. She has to learn to stop being who she is expected to be, and become who she wants to be. The pacing is perfect. The ending is absolutely satisfying in all ways except for one: I wanted to see Chuck bleed! The last time he was outside threatening Chloe, telling her she wasn’t going to ruin his career and all that shady nonsense, I was certain she was getting it all on camera to show him a taste of his own medicine for once. It would have been soooo satisfying. But no. The ending doesn’t bode well for him, at least, so there’s that, but I wanted to experience his downfall! Gah!
Full of eye openers and emotional turmoil, Something Real challenges the way we look at Reality TV. Privacy is even becoming an illusion in today’s online world. This is without a doubt a must read for any contemporary fan!