Publisher/Year: Henry Holt & company- February 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Other Books From Author: I'll Meet You There, Exquisite Captive
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
Chloe, aka Bonnie Baker, has grown up in the spotlight. Her whole childhood was on display for the whole world on the hit reality show Baker’s Dozen (aka John & Kate plus 8 but like even more kids). The show got cancelled and it was a pretty juicy scandal surrounding it that affected her family in huge ways. It’s been years since the show has been off year and Chloe has finally started to lead a normal life. Until Chloe finds out that the Baker’s Dozen is making a comeback and she’s being made to participate in it. Fearing being on the show again will take away the life that she is currently loving (and the friends and crush), she sets out to free herself from it.
I’ve been a reality show addict since forever (Survivor, Big Brother, The Voice, The Real World, Sister Wives, etc. etc.) so OF COURSE I was interested in this one seeing that it is about a family who became famous for having their own reality show. I’m backwards so I read Heather’s I’ll Meet You There first (SOOOOO GOOD) and then tackled this one which is her debut! It was such a good story and definitely surprised me. I think I’ll Meet You There is still my favorite because FEELS but I could not put this one down at all and it made me think A LOT about reality tv. It was also a bit of fun because it reminded me a lot of Jon & Kate Plus 8 SOOO MUCH — similar family with lots of kids kind of show, parental unit meltdown, the comeback to reality tv for the mother. Fun fact: one of my college friend’s babysat for Jon & Kate before they were on the show and she said she was a real douchecanoe even back then.
I’ve always wondered and thought about the kids who grow up on some of these reality shows and Something Real explores that with a family whose whole lives have unfolded in front of the camera and they’ve dealt with the fame and the pressure and the effects of life in the spotlight. We get to see mostly how it has affected the oldest two and how hard it has been for them to adjust in the years that they’ve been off the show — only to get thrown back into it against their own will just when everything has been GOOD. You really get a sense of how hard it is to be in the spotlight. Sure, there are perks, but EVERY THING becomes about your brand and your whole life is just this transparent thing for the world to consume and pick apart. I loved how we see how different members of the family respond to it all (because not everyone shared Chloe’s feelings) and I felt like it’s what I’d imagine it to be like behind the scenes. It also made me reflect on some of these shows and how some of these kids have NO CHOICE and what it could do to them in the present and future. How will it affect them? Will they regret having their whole childhood lived before the world’s eyes? Do they even want to do it? I’m fascinated by it all and made me truly consider if I want to watch reality shows like that with kids in them.
I loved the exploration of the family dynamics — the relationship between a mother who is forcing her child to participate in something she doesn’t want to do again because it’s been traumatic in ways, the relationship with a father who left after his affair was outed for the world to see, the relationship between two sisters who have grown apart as a result of it all and the sweetest brother and sister relationship that became the saving grace in all this. Seriously Benton and Chloe’s relationship was the BEST…so if you are looking for strong sibling relationships…check this one out!
ALSO: THE ROMANCE. When I was reading I tweeted this (with the accompanied gif): “Patrick Sheldon from
@HDemetrios Something Real is just absolutely making my heart melt from his sweetness.”
But really, if you like non-boring nice dudes and a genuinely sweet romance….you will be weak in the knees for Patrick Sheldon!
I think the best part about this book is that it surprised me. Totally. Firstly, it surprised me because I thought it was going to be just a fun, quick read to tickle my reality show loving heart but it had a lot of depth and emotion that it just made it go so much more beyond that. I really felt like I knew how awful it all was for them. Secondly, it surprised me because I thought I had this book’s number. I thought I knew how it was going to unfold and end ultimately but it SURPRISED ME. In a good way. A VERY good way.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Already have one!
reality show addicts, contemporary YA fans, people who want a book that’s emotional but not rip-your-heart-out emotional, readers who love juicy family dynamics, readers looking for strong sibling dynamics, readers who love the nice guys in their romance
Something Real was a surprise! I knew I’d like it but it was even more than I’d imagine. Great characters, a great concept for a plot, a romance you’ll root for and such an empowering story of a girl taking charge of her own life. It’s one I get why it was so popular amongst contemporary YA fans and even people who rarely read contemporary alike! It also made me think A LOT about how I consume the lives of others with reality tv, gossip sites, etc and just the whole idea of it and why we like it/what is harmful about it in some case.
* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*Did you think it was going to end like that if you’ve read it?? (SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT: I thought it would so end with a reconciliation of some sort but I was SO pleased with the ending.
*What other strong sibling dynamics have you loved in books??