I knew this was a good book when I kept wishing it was longer so I could keep reading. It hits that exact sweet spot between serious themes and entertainment. I loved the examination of themes like privacy and exploitation, and how it examined the different sorts of love and the people who love each other. I loved I’ll Meet You There too, so this author is a clear winner.
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 and the scandal surrounding it, 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 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.
Something Real talks about lots of important themes. One of these is the idea of privacy. In an age when it’s so easy to access any and all information about someone’s life– especially celebrities, thinking of scandals of the past few years– privacy is really important. Chloe’s struggle for how much of her privacy could be demanded by other people was so important to read about. I also thought the whole discussion of media was interesting. Reality TV is not something I watch– and it’s obviously not real either. But the role of social media, magazines and websites was talked about in this book, which I feel like is missing from a lot of contemporary YA. There’s also the concept of exploitation. With the adoptions and the siblings and the huge money in shows like these, I really liked how human and civil rights came into this novel. The use of TM after every Bonnie(TM) was clever, and highlighted this. The theme of family was a big deal as well. I have a bigger family than most people I know (I have three siblings), but nowhere near the Bakers. Still, I recognised the chaos of their household, the love and the confusion. Dealing with her family is big part of Something Real, though I wish the siblings had been there even more present in the story. I did love Lex though. The tenuous bonds holding the Bakers together were really interesting.
I also liked how many different kinds of love were shown in the story. Chloe and Patrick had such a cute relationship *sigh*, but it obviously had complications, and that was interesting. Matt and Benton were also really sweet, and I liked that the complexities of being gay were really explored for them. But there was also friendship love. I totally identify with Tess (#highschoolnewspapereditor), and Mer was awesome too. I could see so much of myself in their friendship with Chloe, though I must say that I might be the AV girl if I was at their school. I loved the gang they formed with Patrick, Matt, and Benny. Sibling love is obviously a big deal in this story too. Benny and Chloes relationship was so permanent, so powerful, and the driving force of a lot of the novel. Chloe’s learning more about Lexie was an important journey. The parental love was more complicated, but that teenager experience of loving someone and not being able to say it because there’s so much between you was something that I think almost everyone can identify with. I like my parents way more than Chloe did, but I still got that. Teacher-student love is maybe not the best way to put it, but I loved Schwartz’s relationship with the people he taught.
I guess my twp complaints are that some of the discussion of ‘not running away from my problems’ felt a little engineered, and the Counselor Lady was Every Stereotype of Counselors Ever.
So have you read this? What did you think? And how do you feel about reality TV? tell me in the comments!