Review: Something Real

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Something RealSomething Real by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt BFYR on February 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 403
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

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 hadn’t initially requested Something Real, because, much as I actually love the scenario, there were so many ways such a plot could go to places that I did not want to be. Thanks to reviews from friends and the awesome MacKids publicist, I was able to come to this one belatedly. Something Real is indeed something really good and not to be missed. Lovers of contemporary fiction will definitely want to check this out, even if, like me, you would never ever watch this reality TV show.

Bonnie™ Baker has been on television for almost all of her life. She was even born on camera. The first thirteen years of her life, or seasons as she thinks of them, she was one of the stars of Baker’s Dozen, a reality TV show about her family. The hook of the show is that the Bakers have thirteen children in the family, of which Bonnie is the only one her mother actually gave birth to. Two, Benton™ and Lexie™ were delivered by surrogates, and are just about the same age. The rest were adopted, from the US and foreign countries. Following her parents’ divorce, the reality show ended and Bonnie is finally beginning to live some semblance of a normal life four years later. But then her mother and step-father, Kirk, announce a new show: Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch.

Something Real focuses on what an unhealthy environment the reality show is to grow up in. You may have noticed the ™ symbol following the character names. Bonnie™ doesn’t feel like a person anymore; she feels like a product. When she was younger, the cameras were just a fact of life, but now, after the brief bit of freedom, the Metareel film crew and rules are even more stifling.

YA parents are often absolutely horrid, but the Benton parents get a place in the special hell with child molesters and people who talk at the movies.  Beth™ especially is so obviously manipulating her children for a chance at fame. When she first started out, it was about the children, but now everything she does is so planned. She’s acting the mom and not being one. She feigns concern so that she can fulfill the role that she’s playing and sell books, but she doesn’t seem to actually care about her children. It seems that the older siblings do more to raise the young ones, even. Beth™ completely ignores the fact that Bonnie™ is falling apart, and instead blames her daughter for everything.

Bonnie™ has a really nice character arc. She starts out so unaware of who she is, going by Chloe in school and trying to escape everything about Bonnie™. Her default setting is to run away from her problems, to avoid them. As time passes, she learns that she needs to make a change before her life is entirely ruined. She gets less passive and goes on a journey to find herself without the whole Bonnie™ Baker thing weighing her down.

My favorite character, though, is Benton™, her brother. They have just the best sibling dynamic. They’re truly friends, and they watch out for each other. This is probably the best brother/sister relationship I’ve seen in YA. I also like the way their relationships with their sister Lexie™ evolve throughout the book.

Benton™ also happens to be gay and to have a boyfriend, Matt, who’s a football player. If you do not think they are the cutest thing, I honestly can’t even with you. They have such a healthy relationship and I loved every single thing about them, especially that neither one of them was stereotypical in any way. I LOVED EVERY SINGLE THING. Okay, I didn’t like that Benny smoked, but acting out and all that; both Bonnie™ and Matt gave him hell for it.

Bonnie™ also has a romance, and it IS cute, but it’s also the one thing I didn’t like about the book. It’s TOO cute. Patrick and Bonnie™ have a great connection, and I was really on board at first. However, aside from being a bit grungy, Patrick is PERFECT. He is a hundred percent supportive of Bonnie™ at all times. He has apparently been into her from the very first moment they met. He was the only other person trusted with Benny and Matt’s secret love. He had told his parents all about Bonnie™ before they were dating, like some kid on a 50s sitcom. He’s not bothered by the tabloid coverage of their relationship. Every choice he makes throughout the book puts Bonnie™ first. They’re so healthy as to be entirely unbelievable. I will say that Demetrios manages mostly to keep them from being saccharine, but I still was rolling my eyes by the end, especially when View Spoiler ».

I also felt like the ending was just generally a bit too idealized. After all of that trouble and serious stuff that Bonnie™ was going through, it seems to have been resolved very easily. Nothing’s really said about what happened to a particular plot point: View Spoiler »

Heather Demetrios’ Something Real is a fabulous debut novel, and I will most definitely be reading whatever this woman writes. This is a must read for contemporary readers looking for reality television, family dynamics or LGBT themes.

Favorite Quote:

“The truth is, it’s easier to push him away than to actually figure out what the hell you’re going to do.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

It's a mess.

Reality’s a mess. Fame as a child is even more of one.

17 responses to “Review: Something Real”

  1. Nara says:

    I have to admit, I dismissed this one because of the blurb- not sure if I want to read a book about a reality TV show. Ugh it would be so horrible growing up in an environment like that, with your every move watched :/ But your review has convinced me! I’m definitely going to grab a copy of this book at some point- the romances sound great and the characters really well developed! Also, I kinda want to read what’s under the spoiler tags, so me needs a copy of the book haha.
    Nara recently posted…Review: Panic by Lauren OliverMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Reality TV isn’t my thing either, though I had a brief fling with The Bachelor and Real World in high school. Other than MXC, none of it interests me anymore. However, it’s more about her real life, and it really didn’t feel hyper dramatic like the shows. it’s very much about what a poisonous atmosphere reality tv is, which is fabulous.

  2. Hafsah says:

    I love the TM symbol beside the names. It’s such a unique touch, and adds to that ‘less of a person, more of a product’ feel. I haven’t read any reviews on this one, mainly because I’m not much of a contemporary reader, but this sounds fabulous. Great review, Christina!

    • Christina Franke says:

      The TM symbols is quite clever, though a bit annoying for my brain, since I can’t help reading it as BonnieTM every time, rather than getting used to it and reading Bonnie. :-p

  3. Stormy says:

    I think I initially wrote this book off because of the cover(which is eye-catching, but a little too. . . busy for me, and just didn’t appeal), but I’ve seen so many positive ratings and reviews. I love sibling relationships, so the fact this one has a strong one I think may have just pushed me into the “okay, I’ll read it” territory. And I do find the premise fascinating and timely, considering just the number of reality TV shows that exist.
    Stormy recently posted…Reasons I love Being a Blogger/Reader{Top Ten Tuesday}My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Agreed on the cover. I much prefer the ARC cover, which was really simple and a very pleasant shade of blue. This is a very excellent contemporary. I assume much of it is inspired by Jon & Kate + 8, but I never watched that, so I’m not sure if there were any clever digs.

  4. Rachel says:

    Christina, we are agreeing way too often lately. WHAT IS HAPPENING? I definitely didn’t think you were going to like this book, so this is a pleasant surprise. Though I did LOVE Patrick, which I mean you and I never have the same feelings about romance so I guess that makes sense. But yes to Benton and Matt! I absolutely loved the way that was portrayed. Like, it was so realistic and refreshing and just yes. All the yeses.
    Rachel recently posted…Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/ReaderMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Wow, that is AMAZING. I just assume that things we both like anyone awesome should read, because they’re obviously the best. I didn’t DISLIKE Patrick. I just wish he’d had a flaw or two. He’s a nice guy and all, but who is that supportive? NOT ME. What teen boy tells his parents all about his crush? Lol!

      Benton and Matt are so wonderful, and I like that it didn’t end up being a big deal, because yes to it just being happy and cute and I love them so much.

  5. I’ve been dying to read this, but now even more so, because I did not know that there was a gay character! If their relationship really is as cute as you say, I need to read this one ASAP. I need *something* to brush Fan Art out of my mind. Desperately.
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  6. Nikki says:

    Okay… I have to say, I was kind of avoiding this book because 1) the cover really doesn’t appeal to me, and 2) the blurb just sounded… not great? Idk, it sounded okay, but it definitely wasn’t calling to me.

    But now you’ve convinced me. I think the ™ thing might get annoying, but otherwise, this sounds like SUCH a cute book, and I love the sound of Benton and Bonnie’s sibling dynamic. I love it when siblings are given GOOD development. And… fine I just want to meet Benton and Matt, okay?!

    I’ve just requested this from the library. Can’t wait to read it.
    Nikki recently posted…Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/ReaderMy Profile

  7. This sounds great! The parents sound like the worst, but I love that despite that the kids are ok, and that they have a good relationship. I’ll keep an eye out for this
    thebookishmanicurist recently posted…The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse AndersonMy Profile

  8. Love love loved this book. So glad you did too! I don’t really have anything else to say except that I was fine with the end being the way it was as real life never wraps up very neatly, and I was fine with it being open ended. But whatever. Just super happy you loved it! :D:D
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Ten (Or Fifteen) Reasons We Love Being BloggersMy Profile

  9. I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews for this one, and I’m definitely going to try and check it out soon! I love the idea that Bonnie and Benton put a ™ after their names because they felt like they were becoming products instead of people. I can see the concern with Patrick as well. No matter how cute a book is, a character should still have some kind of character flaw and not come off as 100% perfect. Fantastic review, Christina! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Tuney Tuesday: Panic Cord by Gabrielle AplinMy Profile

  10. Roro says:

    I wanted to read it already . But your review wow. Me wan a San Dja . That’s I want it now in my native tongue ( srAnang )

    I would feel horrible living in that environment. I really wish some parents were not like this . Amazing review Christina
    Roro recently posted…Review: Out Of The Pocket by Bill KONIGSBERGMy Profile

  11. I *need* this book! Everyone has been raving about it, and since you and other reviewers I trust/sometimes agree with have loved it, I MUST buy it soon. I’m going to wait until I go to the US in March, I think, then I can see if I can find it in an actual book shop.
    Amber @ Books of Amber recently posted…Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger and a ReaderMy Profile

  12. I agree that this book was a gem. I enjoyed Benton and Bonnie so much , and loved their relationship. I didn’t like the parents, and totally agree with you that Patrick was too perfect though it all. Great review and love the gif 🙂
    julie@my5monkeys recently posted…Austenland the MOvieMy Profile

  13. I also kind of ignored Something Real at first, like I never requested it from Macmillan because it just did not peak my interest. Now that I see all the positive reviews, I am kicking myself. Ah well, live and learn.

    Also, I just kind of want to read this book for Benton, he sounds awesome.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Half Bad by Sally Green | Book ReviewMy Profile

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