Review: For Real by Alison Cherry

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

Review: For Real by Alison CherryFor Real by Alison Cherry
Published by Delacorte BFYR on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository

From Alison Cherry, author of Red, a novel PW declares “sparkles with wit,” comes a terrific new book about two sisters and one big question: how do you know who’s for real?

No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality television.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t care for Cherry’s debut novel, Red. I’d had high expectations and they crash landed. After that, I wasn’t planning on trying her sophomore effort unless some trusted reviewers enjoyed it. Then one day I got an itchy request finger, but I didn’t expect much to come of it since RH usually doesn’t approve (or deny) my NG requests; they sit there until the title disappears. This time, though, approval. What have I gotten myself into? I wondered. Turns out the answer to that was a whole lot of fun. Cherry’s For Real is funny, fast-paced, and full of joy for anyone who enjoys reality television.

Actually, I don’t like reality television. I know what I just said, and I stand by it, but also it might be worth a shot for certain people who don’t care for it. Personally, it’s mostly not my thing. That said, I do know just how addictive it can be, because the couple times I watched a reality show I ended up watching the full season. I’d turn on the TV, watch part of an episode and get sucked into the all day marathon. Much as I can spout off about the manufactured drama and all of that, they can be very entertaining. What I do unabashedly love are books about reality television. As a teen, there were a smattering of chick lit novels with that premise that I loved and earlier this year Something Real impressed me greatly. For Real centers on a different kind of reality show than those, but it was just as delightfully silly while also being surprisingly meaningful.

My favorite thing  about For Real is the humor that comes through sometimes. Cherry has this ability to embrace the silly that I admire. Her invented reality TV shows are complete gold. An example is Obstacle Kitchen, where chefs have to compete to make the best dish while also dodging obstacles.The show that Miranda and Claire go on in search of vengeance is a perfect example as well. The challenges ought to be too strange for me to believe that they would be aired on television, and yet I could totally imagine this airing.

There’s also the Limerick Game that Miranda and Claire play. Cherry’s humor really gets a chance to shine with these. They’re just the right amount of quirky and they made me smile every time they came up. Here’s an example:

“There once was a stripper named Troy,
Who acted quite dumb as a ploy.
He took off his pants,
Did a butt-shaking dance,
And said, ‘Viewers, I hope you enjoy!’

These are so cute and funny and bantery. It’s also such a great bonding device for Claire and Miranda. They’ve done it throughout their childhoods and it comes out when they’re getting along well.

For Real focuses primarily on the relationship between Claire and her sister Miranda. There’s a little bit of romance, but it’s mostly family. If you asked Claire and Miranda at the beginning of the book, as someone does, they would tell you that they have a great relationship. Under the pressure of reality television, it soon becomes clear that they have serious issues with one another. What’s nice is that the drama isn’t entirely manufactured. The show brings up cracks that were hiding under the surface and forces the sisters to recognize them and deal with them.

Let’s rewind a bit and talk about Claire on her own. Claire’s sometimes tough to take. I ought to have loved her immediately, because she’s a pop culture fanatic and can’t handle crowds. However, be warned that Claire can be a bit tough to take. She’s so judgmental that it made me uncomfortable and I’m one of the most judgmental people I know. It’s all made more annoying when Claire’s whole thing is that she wants people (especially Miranda) to look beneath her shy exterior and see how amazing she is, though she herself judges everyone else off their surface level. The thing is, though, that Claire gets better as the novel goes along.

The reality show is ridiculous, but it forces her to do things that she wouldn’t ordinarily do. She has to get outside of her comfort zone. It’s painful at times, but she survives and comes through the experience much stronger than she was before. Perhaps more important, Claire gets stuck talking to people she ordinarily would not give the time of day. I’ve been there myself and had these revelations. There’s nothing like getting to know real people better than from a distance to clear up those initial prejudices. When Troy, a male stripper, called her out for being rude and judgmental, I had the feeling that Claire would actually be learning and changing. She does, and I think her emotional arc is really solid. I also really liked the way her romance was handled.

This is why I like giving authors second chances. Even if Red wasn’t your thing, you might like For Real. I’m definitely planning on checking out whatever Cherry’s third book is.

Favorite Quote:

I’m the one they’ll underscore with sad tuba noises.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif amazing race nobody comes between me and my million dollars

8 responses to “Review: For Real by Alison Cherry”

  1. Love your review of this! I share the same thoughts with you when it comes to this book. And ah yes, the Limerick Game was by far my favorite part of this book! When I get back to the States in a couple weeks I’m going to try and annoy my older sister into playing it with me. Mwahaha. It shall be magical. 😀
    Alexandra @ SleepsOnTables recently posted…Release Day Blast: You and Everything After by Ginger ScottMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I’m pretty sure I would be horrible at the Limerick Game, but it was so great. Such bonding. Very laughing. Wow. Good luck playing with your sister!

  2. Dahlia Adler says:

    Yes!! I haven’t fully read RED yet, because the voice felt a little too young for what I wanted at the time, but FOR REAL totally grabbed me from paragraph one. I think it’s so awesome when authors have range like that, and I am so excited for her future YAs and so glad you liked this one!!
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Holiday Readathon, LWaT Happenings, and More!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      For Real definitely felt like it had more momentum. I was just so curious what would happen to them on the show and I devoured this in just a couple days. Schedule? What schedule?

  3. Great review and I enjoyed this book too. I enjoyed the little romance and loved seeing the sister relationship through this 🙂 This book made me laugh at time.
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  4. Rebecca says:

    This sounds so fun. I didn’t read the authors debut, but after reading reviews, it didn’t sounds like my thing anything. Dahlia’s review intrigued me and now yours has as well. Might have to give this a try! Great review, thanks for sharing!
    Rebecca recently posted…Top Ten Books I’m Anticipating In 2015My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I’d recommend starting with this one for sure. I wasn’t impressed with Red. You can always go back to it later, but I think this one will be much preferred by most readers. 🙂

  5. Obstacle Kitchen sounds like the absolute best thing ever and I would watch it all day erry day why is this not a thinggggggg???

    Okay, you sold me. This sounds super fun, and the sisterly bonding thing is most likely going to make me feel some feeeeeels. And I appreciate the warning about the judgmental attitude. Glad to know at least that she grows from it!
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Ship-Defining Quotes – a.k.a. ASDFJKL; MY FEELSMy Profile

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