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Review: Something Real

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SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios was released in the U.S. on February 4, 2014, in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), the print edition is 416 pages.

Note: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.

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Description…

Winner of the 2012 PEN New England Discovery Award!

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.

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Review

SOMETHING REAL is a compelling, heartfelt and beautifully written story about a girl who grew up in front of the camera, whose every moment was on display for the world to see, who was finally just beginning to understand what normal was, but then the spotlight found her again. Bonnie™ Baker’s story, broken down into humorously titled episodes, is full of moments that are shocking, heartbreaking, hopeful and uplifting. It is a story that is both sad and sweet that will make readers wonder whether the price of fame is worth it.

When Baker’s Dozen was canceled, Bonnie™ Baker thought her time in the spotlight was over. She changed her name, kept her past secret, and after years of being afraid that someone would recognize her, she was starting to feel like maybe they wouldn’t. She was starting to feel normal.

But when the cameras turn back on for Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch, ready to capture each new humiliation for the public’s consumption, everything she worked so hard for is about to be destroyed. Everyone will know who she really is. Everyone will see her as that girl who ended Baker’s Dozen. Every detail of her life will be seen and judged.

She’ll never get to be just Chloe again. Not unless she can convince her mother to walk away from the opportunity that MetaReel Entertainment Corporation is offering or she can find the strength to walk away from her home and the family she loves.

Author Heather Demetrios, through her character Chloe, paints a disturbing picture of the realities of “reality” television. She presents a world that thrives on drama and suffering, is fueled by threats, and is built on greed. And she does this in a way that, while entertaining, does not make light of the emotional toll it takes on Chloe and her family.

SOMETHING REAL is a story that will make readers think. It gives them a likable and incredibly sympathetic character in Chloe, someone they’ll be rooting for from start to finish. It introduces supporting characters who are charming, witty, engaging and charismatic. It adds excitement with a developing romance that could so easily crash and burn. And it is told in a voice that is immediately captivating.

Fast-paced, surprising, exceptionally well-written and well-developed, heartrending and riveting, SOMETHING REAL is a story not to be missed.

Reviewer gives this book…

05

On a personal note…

When I read the description for SOMETHING REAL I was excited to check it out. I expected a story that was light and fun, with a main character who was going to be wildly entertaining – her name was trademarked, she was a reality TV star. What I got instead was a story that was so much more. And it was such an amazing surprise.

While it was all sorts of entertaining, this story was not the fluffy bit of fun I thought it was going to be. It had substance and depth, moments that were absolutely heartwrenching, others that were heartwarming. Bonnie™/Chloe was not the selfish, arrogant quasi-celeb I thought she’d be. I immediately sympathized with her, with all she was going through. And as the story progressed my heart broke for her again and again.

And while the focus of this story was on Chloe and all that she was struggling with, I loved that the secondary characters were so well-developed and likable. If I had to choose between her brother Benton™ and the boy in her life, Patrick, I think I’d have to say that Benny was my favorite. Benton™ was Chloe’s rock, her support, her best friend, a replacement parent. He cared about her more than anyone else. And he was also funny and so completely adorable.

But Patrick was pretty amazing himself. While he wasn’t as clued into all that was going on with Chloe, he was incredibly supportive and understanding and sympathetic. He was also willing to fight for her, even when she pushed him away, and stand up for her when not very many would.

SOMETHING REAL was such a memorable read that stuck with me for a long time after I finished reading it. I love when stories surprise me in a good way. This story surprised me in a great way. This author delivered a story that while fictional had characters and issues that felt very realistic.

Bonnie™/Chloe and Benton™ were both characters I was rooting for from the moment I met them. Everything they had to go through because of the show, because of their parents, made me adore them all the more. And I was completely invested in this story’s outcome. There may have even been a tear or two in addition to that twisty-turny feeling I got on several occasions during the read.

Chloe was looking for something real in the staged reality that was her life. The author presented this in a story that was so well-written, completely captivating and made me happy that I was never in the spotlight. But it also made me so happy that I got the chance to discover this amazing book and author, an author whose next release I am already anxiously awaiting.

Favorite passage…

I loved this entire book and had a lot of favorite quotes and passages. But there were two that really stood out to me. One about the “worth of our existence” and this one, which completely shreds me.

My voice breaks. How many times had I rehearsed this monologue? In my head, it was perfectly edited, each phrase crafted for the express purpose of making him hurt as much as I do. My words were supposed to be daggers thrown at his heart, not half-coherent complaints. I grip my knees with both hands and try to hold my body together. I’m about to rip at the seams; if I cry, everything inside me is going to fly out. When someone opens the door, pieces of me will be borne away on the wind. I’ll never be able to find all of them. I’ll never be whole. I’ll never be whole.

Note: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.

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