Author: Heather Demetrios (Twitter)
Publisher: Henry Holt BYR
Publish Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that is just so incredibly raw and real that it leaves you very nearly speechless. Something Real is that book. Raw, angry and beautiful, this novel is a powerhouse of emotion. Heather Demetrios catapults herself onto the contemporary scene with a novel that takes a deeper look at the reality of "reality television," as well as what its impact might very well be on its stars. Giving a host of oppressed child stars a voice that is otherwise altered and manipulated to become what the viewing populace wants, this novel breathes new life into contemporary fiction and makes it powerful and relevant again.
Something Real is, first and foremost, a character-driven novel. Bonnie™ Baker was born on national television - literally - and she, as well as her twelve other siblings, have lived out much of their lives onscreen ever since. But the show was off the air, and four the past four years, Bonnie™ has been able to live a real life outside of the prying eye of the paparazzi and the media which ravaged her family, and her own psyche, up until a dramatic incident forced them off the air. Living as Chloe for the past four years has been liberating, but being thrust back on the air is the last thing she can deal with or wants. Plus, she and her siblings are now subject to the manipulative plans of nearly every adult around them, forcing them to be their own advocates.
Bonnie™, Benton™ and Lexie™ are the Baker siblings we follow most, and it's interesting to see how being forced to live their lives on national television has shaped them all. Bonnie™ fought to remove herself from it all, and she's become withdrawn, hurt, angry and closed off. Benton™ has had to hide a piece of himself from the world for fear of outing those he loves most and Lexie™ has become exactly what MetaReel typecast her to be. The characters within Something Real were very much alive throughout the novel. Each perfectly illustrated the natural angst of teenage life, but it was brilliantly amplified by the fact that they had to live their "normal" lives on the air. Bonnie™'s relationship with her parents, both her mother, birth father and her stepfather, was understandably strained, and it was very powerful to see just how the cameras transformed people's characters.
It must be said though, that a secondary character very nearly stole the show in Something Real. Patrick, Bonnie™/Chloe's love interest was the most steady, handsome, nerdy, wonderful rock throughout the seemingly endless turmoil of the novel. Whenever she needed him most, he was there with the words and love she needed most. Even when she pushed him away, he never strayed too far. Most of all though, it was beautiful to see a teenage love story played out in an honest, pure and beautiful way. Rather than thrusting us into an insta-love scenario, Bonnie™ and Patrick are friends, above all else, and their romance stems from this - the most powerful of places. Also amazing to experience was a well-executed plot that progressed through Bonnie™'s carefully executed character development, which fueled the major plot points and really kept things moving. And, it simply must be said, that this novel gives you a cast of characters that are true-to-life and easily relatable, which makes the novel all the more enjoyable.
I've always said that the hardest books to review are the ones we love the most, and I'm not doing Something Real justice at all. Ms. Demetrios has crafted a novel that I will cherish among my favourites, and I will most certainly be on the lookout for more of her excellent, quirky and charismatic storytelling in the future. I give this novel a 5 out of 5, and I can't recommend it enough to all fans of YA and adult fiction, especially those who enjoy powerful contemporary novels.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.