Review: Something Real (Something Real #1) by Heather Demetrios10:00
Series: Something Real #1
Author: Heather Demetrios
Published February 4th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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 don't know about you guys, but one of my guilty pleasures is watching that tv show, 19 Kids and Counting (now Jill & Jessa Moving On, after the whole scandal, etc.). When I heard about this book, I thought it seemed quite similar, without the religious aspect. I could not have been more wrong. Something Real was so much more than a feel good, guilty pleasure. Instead, it showed how being in the spotlight from such an early age can really mess up a person, and how, sometimes, your family aren't good enough.
Something Real starts with 17 year old Bonnie, now known as Chloe, finally settling at school. Her and her brother, Benton, are starting their senior year at high school. They've had the past 4 years to reclaim their privacy and try and get some normalcy. However, they're thrown for a loop when they get home from school to learn their mother has signed them up for a new series of the hit show, Baker's Dozen, without discussing it with them. Chloe really struggled with being in the show in the first place, and now she's faced with the real possibility of a relapse.
First things first, I adored Chloe! She was one of the realist characters I've ever seen in a book. All she wanted in life was to be a normal 17 year old, is that so much to ask?! For the first 13 years of her life, she has spent every waking moment with a camera focused on her, and had to deal with her parents adopting more and more children, until, on her 10th birthday, her 'present' was a set of triplets to 'complete the family'. It's no wonder she struggled to cope with the pressure, especially when she was blamed for her parents divorce after discovering her father in the shed with his assistant. She was just learning to let people in, and had a budding relationship growing with Patrick, and is worried that when everyone realises she isn't just 'Chloe', but is in fact Bonnie Baker, that everything will go to hell.
I really want to hug Chloe for most of the book. At every turn it seemed like the world was against, mostly in the manifestation of her mother, or the producer. The whole topic of whether or not having children life on camera constituted abuse or not was dealt with really well here, and not taken lightly. Some of the children may have appeared well rounded, and not affected by the show, but for the oldest kids - Chloe, Benton, and Lexie - there were real consequences of the show. Beth, the mother, never seemed to really care about her kids, other than them being a source of wealth for her, and treated Chloe, in particular, like something she'd trodden.
The main focus of the book was on the family aspect of Chloe's reality, but the romance was really cute too. Even when Patrick discovered Chloe was Bonnie, he didn't care. He loved her, and nothing else counting. When he realised the impact Baker's Dozen was having on her, he did everything in his power to help her escape the nightmare that was her home. For Chloe and Benton, having their boyfriend's, Patrick and Matt, there for them was more than just romantic. It was moral support, and the realisation that they could escape and try and find normality. Really, the whole book was so real (just like the title says) and I wish I had read it earlier. If you haven't tried this book yet, I recommend you do.