Author: Heather Demetrios
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (February 4, 2014)
Description: 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.
Heather Demetrios' Something Real is the winner of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award.
My Thoughts: Bonnie™ Baker was born on TV and grew up under the eye of the camera on the reality show Baker's Dozen. She was watched 24/7 for the first thirteen years of her life until a messy divorce and her suicide attempt caused the show's cancellation. She has been trying to be normal ever since and has gone to school for the first time, made friends, and even has a boyfriend. But her normal life is coming to an end because her mother has made a deal to begin the series again.
Bonnie™ who has reinvented herself as Chloe hates the idea. She has become phobic about cameras and she hates that her life is going to be on display again. She has support from from brother Benton™ who is also reluctant to be on display again. After all, he is gay and drinks too much. He also doesn't want to out his boyfriend who is a member of a very fundamentalist Christian sect.
This was a can't-put-down story for me. The 400 pages flew by as I was watching Chloe struggle for her real life. I fell in love with her boyfriend Patrick too. He was so supportive and caring. Reading this reminded me of some of the reality TV shows I have seen, especially Jon & Kate Plus Eight. The mother was very Kate-like - manipulative, phony, self-obsessed, and unable to take responsibility for her own actions. She wanted a baker's dozen children and is more than willing to exploit all of them for money and her moment of fame. Even Chloe's relationship with her absentee father fit into the Gosselin saga.
Watching Chloe deal with the never-ending presence of cameras, lack of privacy, and pressure from the producer was painful. But the support of her friends and boyfriend was amazing. I loved her relationship with her brother Benton and loved seeing her relationship with her sister Lexie improve.
This story was amazing and would be eye-opening for any fans of reality TV. I can't wait to share it with my students.
"We have to do the show, don't we?" I ask miserably.I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.
He frowns. "Yeah."
"After we graduate, I'm immediately moving out. Even if I have to hook to scrape together the money."
"Or you can write a tell-all. There's just as much whoring, but you can work from home."
"But I wouldn't get to wear pleather stilettos and get beaten up by my pimp."
Benny sighs. "Decisions, decisions."
These are the kinds of pep talks reality TV kids have when the cameras aren't rolling.