Synopsis: 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.
Sam’s Review –
Huge thank you to Macmillian and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
I feel like Something Real and I should have gotten on better than we did. I adore mindless reality television and am the person who equally entertained by the gossip news that often entails with these shows, but something about this book and I didn’t click.
First off, I want to commend the author for the unique and multiple styles she pulls off in the text. One thing that enhances Something Real is that small sections of the book are e-mail clippings, scripting sections, tabloid magazines, and even quizzes. These aspects really makes the book stand out in a lot of ways, though reading a whole book in this style might be a bit much. Thankfully, it’s not overused in any way.
Second, I wish Bonnie/Chloe was actually an interesting character. While I love her tenacity to suck it up and deal with the “Baker’s Dozen” drama, it baffled me just how much she kept putting up with it, with the last forty pages being where she decides to sod off. I feel like Demetrios wanted to incorporate every type of celebrity drama into the text, but I found it got quite overboard by the end of it. I just found Bonnie/Chloe to be a bit of a push over, lacking any sense of spunk. For me, I understand why there’s a lack of depth with her (due to reality television land), but she spends a good first chunk of the book as being whiny and frustrating, and I found myself screaming “get on with it” more than once.
I feel like this book does an amazing job at being very superficial and fake, but again, also goes a bit too overboard on that element as well. I get that the characters other than Bonnie/Chloe and Patrick are supposed to be caricatures, but it doesn’t make for any interesting narrative a lot of the time. Frankly, I forgot who a lot of the characters were because no one, not even the protagonist herself or her love interest stood out and made a statement to be interesting. That really disappointed me and I feel like a bit more depth in these caricatures could have gone a long way.
While the writing is decent, there is one issue in this book that stood out like a sore thumb: the amount of trademarking symbols present. In fact, it’s beyond excessive in this text and it drove me ballistic at times. We get that they are a TRADEMARKED FAMILY, we don’t need to be reminded of that EVERY PAGE in the whole first half of the book.
The writing is decent and the idea is solid, but I feel like this book missed the mark for me in that it just didn’t play itself up as being as entertaining as a Reality TV show. The characters were dull, the narrative was merely okay, but this book does nothing distinctive that other young adult novels haven’t already attempted. I wanted something more from Something Real, but all I felt were its “meh” ratings.