Publisher: Henry Holt
Pages: 416 pages
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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, 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 that 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.
Heather Demetrios' Something Real is the winner of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award.
I brought Something Real with me on vacation to the Philippines back in December but I put off reading it. The book is about a girl who grew up on a Jon and Kate Plus Eight-like or a Kardashian-style reality TV show and I hate watching those kind of shows. The book's description doesn't tell you much and I wasn't sure what to expect. But my Kindle ran out of battery with a couple more days left on my trip so I reluctantly started reading Something Real.
And then it was really had to stop reading. I wanted to savor it but at the same time I wanted to quickly flip through the pages because I had to know what will happen next.
Something Real was an amazing read. First of all, the writing was fantastic and it immediately grabbed me. It was well-paced, well-plotted and Bonnie™/Chloe Baker's voice was spot on. I couldn't detect any debut novel awkwardness. The story just flowed liked butter and it was a joy to read.
After being born on camera and spending her all of childhood in front of the cameras on her family's hit reality TV show the Baker's Dozen, Bonnie™ Baker was finally living a normal life. In the last four years, she has reinvented herself as Chloe Baker, a normal girl (or as normal as she can get because her years on the show did a number on her psyche) trying to get through her senior year of high school with her two best friends Tessa and Meredith, crushing on the lovely Patrick Sheldon and trying to keep her reality TV past a secret. And then her mom drops a bomb on her: Baker's Dozen is going back on air. Soon, the life Chloe carefully built for herself start to crumble.
Being a reality TV disliker (I only watch the competition types like Project Runway or The Voice), I liked the behind-the-scenes look of what it meant to grow up on reality TV--the fun/okay parts and the ugly parts (people's obsession with celebrities and the awfulness that they invite, the lack of privacy, the crazy paparazzi, etc.) were explored. And it gave it a face in Bonnie™/Chloe Baker, which made me reflect about myself and my quick to judgements and dismissal of reality TV stars. How we only see one side of the story, and sometimes not even the whole story but just the version that will garner the most viewers. It is a very timely topic.
Bonnie™/Chloe Baker's character quickly endeared herself to me. Throughout the novel, I felt her pain, her anger, her depression, her joy... Chloe experienced a roller coaster of emotions and I was there with her all the way. I loved the coming of age journey she undertook--Chloe started out desperately trying to stay of the spotlight and just ran from her problems rather than face them but she bloomed and became a stronger person by the end. Her finding her inner strength to confront the challenges in her life was empowering and I rooted for her to succeed.
I also enjoyed all the secondary characters in Something Real, from Benny™ (Chloe's brother who had the best and cutest secondary plot line ever with his boyfriend Matt) to the "unlikable" characters like Chuck the evil producer and Chloe's mom. They were all fully fleshed out and some, like Chloe's sister Lexie™, just begged for their own novels.
And of course I cannot end this review without talking about the dreamy Patrick Sheldon. Man, can Heather Demetrios write a swoon-worthy love interest(s)! Patrick (as well as Benny Baker, if he's more your type) is one to add to your book boyfriends list. He was just lovely. Maybe he was a little too perfect, but whatever. We can dream. I loved how Patrick and Chloe's relationship developed and by the end of the novel you know these two are meant to be together. The romance had a very My Life Next Door (Fitzpatrick) feel to it, which I LOVED.
Something Real is the kind of contemporary YA that I prefer too read: not light and fluffy but not dark and serious either... just that perfect balance of serious and light-hearted moments. It is so, soooo good, you guys. I absolutely loved it and I urge you to pick it up.