Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Published: February 4th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Friendship.
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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.
I’m usually very hesitant to pick up a book that focuses on the “celebrity” lifestyle. More often enough I feel like those books either romanticise “celebrity” culture or make is so dramatic it feels fake. That is why I put off reading Something Real for so long and I am kicking myself for that. Heather Demetrios has once again given us a story that highlights the brutality of “reality” television. Here we have Chloe, a seventeen year old who has grown up in the spotlight thanks to her families reality show ‘Baker’s Dozen’. After four years of living a life away from the cameras she finally feels like she can move on from being Bonnie Baker. However, life and her mother have other plans and she is quickly thrown back into the world of chaos, drama and manipulation. This safety net she’s built around herself is shattered and now she has to try and find out how Chloe can still hold on the life she built for herself without the interference of camera.
Chloe is such a wonderful character. I loved following her journey in this book and while I couldn’t relate to her “reality” situation I could definitely relate to the emotional impact this life has on her. Since living her life in front of the camera one of Chloe’s main struggles in this book is finding her identity. All she wants is the freedom to explore who she is without the cameras. On camera she is Bonnie Baker, a trademark, someone that is being used as a tool for drama, ratings and endorsements. To Chloe, Bonnie is nothing more than a Hollywood production. She hates the cameras and as a child she has been given no choice in the life she’s been handed and the tolls on having the world know every detail of your life, of never having a moment of privacy is definitely affecting Chloe’s mental and emotional state. She can’t confide in her mother because it’s clear that her priority is the show and keeping up appearances and there’s a lot of resentment for that because given the choice between her daughter and the camera, Chloe knows that the cameras always come first.
However, Chloe is not alone and she does have a few people in her life that she can turn to. Her brother, Benny, is her closest confidant and I absolutely loved the dynamic between the two. Like Chloe, Benny has no desire to live life in front of the camera. Benny is her rock. He’s the one that she turns to when she needs a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold. They have such a beautiful relationship and the bond they have is unbreakable.
We also have Patrick Sheldon. Patrick is the definition of a sweetheart. Chloe and Patrick have essentially been dancing around each other for the past year; both of them unsure as to whether or not the other likes them. Their connection was so adorable and I love their interactions. When Patrick finds out about the show, he does not back down. He stands with Chloe, even when she pushes him away and becomes another person for Chloe to turn to when things get tough. Their relationship was so sweet and you could definitely feel the love between them.
This book explores the dark side of “reality” television and I feel like this story is so relevant to today’s society because people are so obsessed with these shows. This book makes you think about the manipulation and the emotional abuse young kids are put through on these “reality” shows. The lack of privacy, having an entire identity carved out for the show, never being given a moment’s peace and most of all not being given a choice in the matter. I absolutely loved this book. I cried, laughed and cursed the hell out of some people. Most of all Chloe’s journey in finding her own voice and identity was so moving. I couldn’t put the book down.