Title: Something Real
Author: Heather Demetrios
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher (ARC)
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.
Thank you to Raincoast Books for a copy of this book for review!
As much as I love television (and I really love television!) I have never really been one for reality TV shows. I remember when shows like Survivor first came out and it was very exciting, but these days there are so many reality shows that it’s hard to find something that ISN’T a reality TV show. So when I saw that Heather Demetrios’s new book was available for review — a book that’s about a family with their own TV show — I knew I had to read it. The story sounded gripping and exciting!
The book really didn’t disappoint. At first, I was a little thrown off by the fact that the childrens’ names were trademarked, but I was happy to find that after reading through a few chapters, it was something I didn’t even notice anymore. It really was a creative way of doing things even in the book, though just a little weird since nicknames — like Bon or Benny — weren’t trademarked. What could have been very annoying turned out to be a handy device of storytelling.
Anyway, I remember when that show Kate and Jon Plus 8 was out on TLC and this story really made me think of it. This story has thirteen children, but focuses mainly on the older three, plus the adults. Mainly, the story is about Bonnie — a.k.a. Chloe — and her thoughts on the family’s show before and after the reboot. The crazy thing is that this book really is a bit of an eye-opener into that whole world of reality TV and how it’s really not “reality” at all. There are always those people behind the scenes trying to spin a story that’s actually interesting and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Not only that, but you get the people on the show whose world revolves around the show, making it hard for them to think anything should be kept private.
It’s something that we see a lot these days with places like Facebook or Twitter, where everyone can make their entire life public — and, really, why should anything be kept private? I think that’s the thing that made this story so good. You don’t have to be a reality TV show star to appreciate it because I’m sure all of us, at one time or another, have aired some sort of dirty laundry on the internet, or we’ve relished in reading about others’.
The only thing that is holding me back from a 5-star rating for this book is that things start to happen towards the end of the story and I felt like there should have been more of a resolution, some sort of Epilogue, maybe. I wanted to know what happened beyond the idea of these final chapters of the story (which I don’t want to talk about right now because I don’t want to spoil things!). There were certain characters who I think deserved to be taken off of their high horse, but we really don’t know what actually happened.
Not only do we have the whole reality TV concept of the book, but there’s also the fact that Bonnie/Chloe wants to live her real life outSIDE of the show. There are her friends, a love interest — how do you have a real life and not include these people in the thing that has been your entire life? Heather Demetrios does such a good job of exploring this. And when it came to characters, I thought Bonnie and Benton were perfect — I loved their relationship — and I even liked Lex by the end. People like their mother scared the crap out of me, especially since being on TV and in the spotlight for so long has made that line between reality star and mom very hazy.
By the time I finished reading this book, I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to grow up in a household that is constantly followed around by TV cameras, hardly allowed to live their own life. It really seems like such a scary thing, what shows like this might do to the younger stars! This book is definitely well worth a read — especially if you’re a fan of reality shows.