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Something Real Hardcover – February 4, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—It's been four years since the reality television show Baker's Dozen went off the air. Bonnie Baker, 17, feels lucky to have survived the tension and challenges from constantly being in the limelight with her 12 siblings. Incognito, she now attends a new high school as Chloe. The teen has two best friends and even the sweet security of her first boyfriend, Patrick. Slowly but surely, Bonnie has moved beyond the stigma of being the 13-year-old who took an overdose of pills due to the stress and frustrations of the show, her parents' divorce, and the never-ending paparazzi lens. But neither the show's owner, MetaReel, nor the photographers have forgotten her family, and claiming they need the money, her mother and stepfather have contracted with MetaReel to go back on the air for another round of "reality." Bonnie is floored when her identity is revealed and her personal life is again overshadowed by national scrutiny. She struggles to break away from the clutches of the camera one last time, even if it ultimately means filing a lawsuit with the help of Patrick, her two best friends, and brother Benny (who was forced to come out about his boyfriend on the air). With likable protagonists and snappy dialogue, Something Real credibly zooms in on reality TV's impact on unwilling subjects-a shoo-in for teens drawn to contemporary romance and drama. It will especially attract those who liked the similarly compelling reality show fictional exposés Reality Boy by A. S. King (Little, Brown, 2013) and The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (HarperCollins, 2009).—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO
Bonnie™ Baker had been on the reality show Baker’s Dozen her whole life—until it folded after Bonnie’s suicide attempt four years ago. Since then, the family has started over in California (Bonnie’s dad has left and her mom, Beth, has remarried), and Bonnie, now Chloe, is incognito. It even feels safe to start a relationship with her crush, Patrick. Then, a shock! Beth re-ups Bonnie and her 12 siblings for a new season—Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch. Books about kids on reality shows are a recent minitrend, but first-time novelist Demetrios does a particularly good job of capturing this phenomenon, wrapping it in both sleaze and excitement. Bonnie and her gay brother, Benton™, are the focus, and their considerable anguish, especially when it comes to paparazzi and missing-in-action parents, is palpable. Meanwhile, Bonnie’s romance with understanding Patrick is so sweet that readers won’t mind that no such teen boy exists in reality. Interview transcripts and episode excerpts heighten the reality of this smart, funny book that kids will binge read, sorta like watching a Teen Mom marathon. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper
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But as Chloe's last year of high school rolls up, so does another season of Baker's Dozen - only her Mom forgot to brief the kids on the decision she and their stepdad has taken on the family's behalf, to go live again. Bonnie/Chloe and her twin Benny are the ones who bear the brunt of the media attention, and now they feel the time has come to rebel. But how can you break the bonds of a media contract that is also your family's identity and livelihood?
Something Real is a comedy of errors that asks some really chilling questions about what media is doing to us all, our sense of reality, and how we expose ourselves and others to the world's eyes. How healthy can it be to have our relationships, our divorces, secrets and failures broadcasted and commented on - and why do we expect this of the celebrities we follow on-line?
Heather Demetrios writes a snappy, no-nonsense prose that paints her characters quickly and surely and moves the action along seamlessly. Compared to her other book I'll Meet You There, which deals with more heavy stuff, this is a more charming, easy read, but under the humor and the breezy writing, the agonies of being a teenager on national display clearly shines through. I recommend it for anyone who wants a light and fun introduction to doing some serious thinking on what a life in media does to consumer and producer alike.
There is a follow-up to this story being published right now by Heather Demetrios on the free story community WattPad - the elder sister, Lexie's, story after Something Real ends. If you want to keep following the Bakers, move on over there after you finish this book!
When we first meet Chloe she’s in the midst of her senior year of high school and finally feeling like things are falling into place after the cancellation of the reality show that brought her family fame and notoreity. She’s managed to stay under the radar and made a few close friends who have no idea about her infamous past. For the first time in her life she’s feeling cautiously optimistic but still struggles with trying to keep her famous upbringing a secret. Unfortunately, all that changes in an instant when her mother announces that the cameras are coming back for a second round.
Throughout this whole novel, I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Chloe’s mom. The woman had literally NO redeeming qualities and what she makes her children endure was beyond redemption. She never once considers the mental health or happiness of her children, and continues to push them further and further in the world of reality television. No privacy, no genuine quality-time together and certainly no lives outside of the confines of their 24/7 broadcast home.
Chloe starts off as a victim of circumstance but as the book goes on she finds strength from the loving and supportive relationship she has with her brother and the people she is closest to at school. It was so heartwarming to see how they rally around her to give her the strength she needs. Chloe has seen some dark days in her past and they help her to stay positive and move forward as she tries to overcome her (pardon my language) s***ty surroundings. I absolutely adored the relationship Chloe had with her brother. The love and concern they had for each other made me connect with the characters even more…if I were in the same situation I’d be totally protective of my siblings too!
So we need to just take a moment to discuss Patrick Sheldon, Chloe’s long-time crush who turns out to be so much more than she ever imaged he could be. Throughout everything Patrick remains her constant and faithful friend. Unfazed by the cameras and constant attention, he connects with Chloe in such an honest and open way that allows her to truly explore what she wants out of life for the very first time. Patrick is one of those guys who just knows exactly what to say or do in the most awkward or tense situations. He’s such a perfect balance to the craziness that is Chloe’s life and I want to thank him for being exactly what she needed. You go boy!
This book was everything I expected it to be and more. I’d heard so much great buzz about it and was completely wrapped up in Chloe’s story after the very first chapter. Even though I never starred on a reality show (thank god!!), her character was so relatable that I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. I mean, could you imagine your ENTIRE life televised? Your most private, intimate and embarrassing moments caught on camera for the whole world to see?
Final thoughts: Run NOW to your local bookstore, library, online retailer…borrow it from a friend. Whatever you do, you must get your hands on this book ASAP! It’s an instant classic and is going to go right on my favorites shelf next to Open Road Summer, Anna and the French Kiss and Fangirl!
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