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. (from Goodreads)
There was so much to love about this book. I had heard great things about it, and after reading (and really, really liking) I'LL MEET YOU THERE, I had high hopes for this one as well. It definitely delivered. SOMETHING REAL had me laughing one minute (the voice and humour were fantastic), raging the next, and choked up after that. I love books that do that to me.
Perhaps my favourite aspect of this book was the relationships. I'm all about the romance in books, and this one was particularly swoonworthy (I adored Patrick), but surprisingly the relationship I loved the most was actually Chloe* and her brother Benton™'s. It was so, so good, you guys. This book was all about family dynamics--good, bad, and really, really ugly--and these moments with Chloe and Benton™ were especially funny and heartwarming. Close contenders were Tessa and Mer who were the best kind of besties.
SOMETHING REAL called to mind "reality" TV shows like Jon & Kate Plus 8 (then the less popular, trimmed down version sans Jon, Kate Plus 8) and 42 Million Kids and Counting...or whatever that hot mess is called. Obviously there are questions about the rightness or wrongness of forcing kids to live like zoo animals in front of a camera for millions of viewers. This book explores that controversy through Bonnie™'s eyes and experience and consequently made me so ragey at times that I wanted to scream at certain characters in the book. (Specifically at her RealMom™, Kirk, and that mulleted f@$k named Chuck.) I thought the author did a fantastic job of portraying it like it probably is: There's very little real about reality TV.
There was one storyline that I wish we had been given more of at the book's conclusion (The One With the Legal Stuff), but this absolutely did not take away from my enjoyment of this book. And I suppose it's realistic to not have every single plot point tied up in a neat bow, right? All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read that was especially tough to put down. I highly recommend it!
* Chloe = Bonnie™ (Just to clear up any confusion.)