Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TVshe 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 owneven 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.
About the Author
When she's not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the east coast home. Heather is part of the Summer 2014 Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA class at Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award for Something Real. She's never been on reality TV, but her grandmother keeps begging her to do The Amazing Race.
Read an Excerpt
SEASON 17, EPISODE 1
(The One with the Cameras)
It took me four years, seven shrinks, three different hair colors, one Zen meditation retreat, and over six hundred mochas to get to this moment.
I step up to the blue velvet backdrop and face the camera. When the photographer isn’t paying attention, I wipe the back of my hand over my damp forehead, then clutch my fingers behind my back, like I’m a two-year-old with a secret. I shouldn’t have worn the sweater-shirt. The wool is itchy, and I’m about two seconds away from breaking out in hives. God, why won’t he just take the damn picture? It’s not like this is Seventeen. The last time they shot me, we’d spent four hours on my hair and makeup and another three in front of the camera. This is nothing compared to that, but it feels so much worse.
I want to bolt so bad, and this guy’s taking forever, longer than he took for anyone who was in line ahead of me. But I have to stick it out. I’ve been psyching myself up for this all summer. A senior photo is an important pastime for a normal girl. And I’m a normal girl.
I can do this. Breathe. It’s not even a camera camera … it’s just a photo. One photo. That’s it. And the name that will be underneath it in the yearbook? Totally unremarkable. Nothing Us Weekly would care about. Chloe Baker’s a nobody.
The scruffy photographer crouches down behind the camera, like a sniper looking through a scope. The panic that had started out as a slight queasiness in my stomach is pushing past my ribs, pressing against my lungs.
The sweater itching. Sweat on my forehead. Nails digging into my skin. Keep it together. Just a few more seconds.
I’m a freaking basket case.
“All right, Chloe,” he says. “On three. One, two—”
I smile as the flash goes off, and the photographer gives me a thumbs-up, then turns to the kid behind him. “Next!”
My first voluntary picture in four years.
I grab my backpack off the floor and throw it over one shoulder as I walk out of the makeshift photo studio. Giddiness wells up in me, like I mainlined a Pepsi Freeze and got a little too high on caffeine and sugar. I want to do something to commemorate the day—bake a cake or put a sticker on my calendar. Light a candle.
Behind me, a long line of seniors wait their turn for the yearbook photos, but since my last name is at the beginning of the alphabet, I’m among the first to go home on this rare half day. Thank God for long faculty meetings.
“Proud of you, sis.”
My brother, Benton™, also a senior, gives me a hug. I knew he’d been waiting for me after he took his photo, which, because he’s a well-adjusted person, is no biggie for him.
“Is that relief I see in your eyes?” I ask him.
He shrugs. “Maybe a little.”
“Someday, you’ll be proud of me for doing something that’s scarier than a yearbook picture.”
He gives my ponytail an affectionate tug. “Baby steps.” We walk away from the line together and then he jerks his thumb toward the locker room. “I’m meeting Matt, so you can take the car, ’kay?”
He gives me a wicked little grin. “We get his house to ourselves until he has practice at three.”
I feign shock. “Scandalous!”
He laughs and then jogs off to meet his boyfriend, while I go the opposite way, toward the parking lot.
Maybe not freaking out is proof that I’m no longer a paranoid schizo. I mean, if my classmates haven’t figured it out by now, they never will. Right? Right. It doesn’t matter if they look at me all day long or have ten yearbook pictures of me. It doesn’t. They’ll only see Chloe Baker.
Still. A tiny part of me wants to turn around and demand that the photographer delete my photo. It isn’t too late. But I keep walking, one foot in front of the other, out of the gym, through the parking lot, and to the car Benny and I share—a used silver Hyundai with dark-tinted windows, as unremarkable as I want to be.
It’s one of those rare perfect fall days that we only get, like, three of in central California. The sun is shining, but the breeze bites, and even though the trees don’t really change here, not like back home in New Hampshire, a few across the parking lot have turned golden or rust-colored. I smile at them, like we’re old friends. Then I slide into the driver’s seat, and when I turn the key, the radio starts blaring Lily Allen’s “Smile,” and really, how freakin’ perfect is that?
My cell rings, and I put it on speaker as I back out of my spot.
“Chlo. You still coming over?” It’s Tessa, one of my two best friends.
“Yeah,” I say. “Just going home to change. This sweater makes me want to rip my skin off.”
“Yikes.” I can hear the heavy buzz of students all around her—her last name’s Lee, so she’ll be in line for a while. “Well, don’t hurry. After this, I have to make sure the paper’s good to go. There are about five articles that I know right now, without the benefit of psychic powers, are going to suck.”
Tessa is the editor of the school paper, and it pretty much takes up her whole life. It sort of works out that my friends are super-busy overachievers—it gives them less time to ask questions I can’t answer.
“Don’t you have underclassmen minions to do your bidding?” I say. “Make someone else proofread for a change. It’s a half day!”
I pull out of the parking lot and head north, toward the highway that leads to the new housing developments out in the boonies.
“Can’t. The paper’s my baby. Leaving it in their hands is like child endangerment,” Tessa says. “Call you when I’m done?”
I hang up and sing along with Lily Allen, reveling in the noon sun. Now that the photo’s over, I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m tempted to call my therapist from last year and be like, I’m cured!! but I wouldn’t want to give her the satisfaction. She always used the phrase “that’s understandable” whenever I told her about the stuff that happened to me, and I was like, No, actually, none of it’s understandable. That’s sort of the whole point of why I’m here. But like everything else, that’s in the past.
Twenty minutes later, I slow down in front of the big metal gate that leads into our driveway. It’s exactly like the one we had in New Hampshire four years ago—built so that paparazzi can’t see in. I press the control attached to my sun visor, and the gate creaks open. As soon as I pull into the drive, my good mood is gone, like someone came over and kicked it out of me. I hit the brakes and stare.
The telltale signs of my childhood are everywhere: vans with satellite dishes on top, the Mercedes with the familiar BRN4REEL license plate, and ropes of thick black cables that crawl around the house like prehistoric predators, squeezing everyone inside until they suffocate.
The living room curtains are closed. Hot lights seem to burn up everything on the other side of them, the fluorescent quality of the inside mixing with the sunlight outside.
As if the two could coexist.
This is the moment where I’m supposed to visualize something positive. Go to my happy place. Meditate. Instead, I just sit there, numb, with the car running, and try to remember how to breathe. This can’t be possible—not when I’m finally in school and have friends and can go to the mall without Vultures hiding in planters, stalking me. Mom promised. She fucking promised.
But a voice inside whispers, Yeah, Bonnie™, but parents break their promises—you know that better than anyone else.
I close my eyes and beg the universe to pleasepleaseplease let this be a really extreme flashback. It’s not real. Not real. Not.
I open my eyes—this is really happening.
The car feels suddenly small, like the metal sides are warping and shrinking. My sweater-shirt is full of millions of little teeth eating away at me, and I struggle with my seat belt as beads of sweat pile up under my bra, against the tight waistline of my jeans, and trickle down my forehead. Dammit, this seat belt won’t freaking open, it won’t—
Two guys on the roof stare down at me as I stumble out of the car, and I know they’re surveying the neighborhood, seeing if there are any good shots they can get from up there. A crew is already working on making our fence even higher, and security details are mapping out the perimeter of our property. Five hours ago, they weren’t here. They were probably driving up from LA just as I was leaving for school. Funny how your whole world can go to hell within three hundred minutes.
“Excuse me,” someone calls, “didn’t you see the sign? This is private property.”
I turn around and shade my eyes against the sun as an unfamiliar figure walks up to me.
“Yeah, I know,” I say. The woman has a cell phone in one hand and a Starbucks cup in the other. I’ve never seen her before. “My stepdad put up that sign. Who are you?”
As she gets closer, she gasps. “OMG! Bonnie™?” A look of recognition passes over her face. “It is you. Wow! You look like a totally different person! I love, love, love your long hair—so different from that cute little bob you always had, and the color—awesome. Oh my gosh, you were, like, my little sister’s idol. For reals, she is going to FLIP when she sees how grown up you are. This is so freakin’ out of control!”
She! Loves! Exclamation! Points!
“Who are you?”
“Oops!” She flips her hair back like she’s in a shampoo commercial. “Sorry. I’m Lacey—the head production assistant for Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch.”
I already hate Lacey Production Assistant Who Talks to Me Like She Knows Me.
My tongue feels thick, and the words come out sounding like I’ve been drugged. My stomach gets that car sickness sort of feeling, and the world begins to tip on its axis, vertigo style.
Just then, Mom and Chuck come out the front door—Chuck of BRN4REEL fame, MetaReel’s head producer. He hasn’t changed a bit. His paunch strains against his shirt, and he walks toward me like a strutting peacock, his weight on his heels, his arms swinging freely at his sides. Lacey scurries away, and two seconds later I realize why; she doesn’t want to get in the shot. My hands fly up to block my face—my kingdom for a pair of dark sunglasses and a ginormous hat.
“Mom! What is this?” I shout. The last word echoes across our huge driveway, this … this … this.
I can feel eyes on me—the camera, the dudes on the roof, the crew peeking out the windows of my house.
“Bonnie™, why aren’t you in school?”
Mom’s out of practice—back in the day, she would have been able to hide the note of panic that’s creeping into her voice. To her credit, she has a super-stricken look on her face, but right now I hate her more than Lacey Production Assistant.
“Who cares? What’s going on?”
“Bonnie™,” she says, pursing her lips and inclining her head ever so slightly toward the camera.
As if I could forget it’s there.
Chuck’s small, glittering eyes are on us, but he hangs back, letting the cameras take in all our drama. There’s a movement to my right, and I see three little pigtailed heads peering out at me through the slightly open front door—my youngest sisters, our triplets from China: Daisy™, Violet™, and Jasmine™. I was hoping they wouldn’t have the childhood I did, but I guess they will after all.
“Mom, please—” I stop because my voice is getting that high, constricted I’m-trying-not-to-cry sound, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give the cameras what they want. Also, I don’t want to freak out my sisters.
Mom looks at me—really looks at me—and her eyes are sad and stressed, and I think how much they look like my brother Benny’s. Then she squeezes the tip of her nose between her thumb and index finger, which is Mom Speak for shitshitshit. She turns to Chuck.
“We can’t film this—we agreed Kirk and I would get to tell all the kids in a controlled environment. I told you it would be difficult with her. I told you, Chuck.”
The camera focuses on me as Chuck whispers in Mom’s ear. She starts shaking her head.
“I don’t care!”
My feet start moving on their own, closer and closer to the camera. I barely register the guy holding it. I reach out my hand and touch the glass lens—nobody’s really paying attention to me anymore except for the camera and the man behind it. You know those tribal people who believed a camera could steal your soul? Turns out they were right.
“I’m sorry, Beth. It’s in the contract—MetaReel has full access to all public spheres of the home. The driveway is a public sphere. What do you want me to do?” Chuck asks. I can see him reflected in the lens, giving his little shrug and faux it’s-out-of-my-hands frown. It’s an expression better suited to a sitcom. He loves playing hapless—he’s anything but.
“Bon-Bon, come over here,” Chuck says, his voice wheedling. “Four years, and I don’t even get a hug?”
I can’t believe I used to like that nickname.
“Bonnie™,” Mom calls. I can hear her heels grinding the gravel underfoot as she comes after me. Hurry, hurry, my blood whispers.
I look right into the camera. My face is practically pressed up against it. America will be able to see my smudged eyeliner and the zit on my chin. They’ll probably show a Cover Girl commercial after this segment—I’ll be a cautionary tale for teen skin care.
I open my mouth to say something—screw you, America!—anything, but I go mute. Typical.
Mom yanks me back, hard. Child Protective Services hard.
“Ouch!” I say it louder than I need to.
The front door opens wider, and Kirk, my stepdad, comes outside. His sandy gray hair is slicked back, and he’s wearing pressed khakis and a button-down. He looks like a totally different person without the paint-splattered Dickies and ratty T-shirts he usually wears.
“Bonnie™, sweetheart. Let your mother explain,” he says.
For a second, I just stand there and stare at him. Bonnie™—et tu, Kirk? I feel like he just walked onto the porch and slapped my face as hard as he could. Up until about three seconds ago, he was one of only two people in my whole family who were willing to call me Chloe. He’d understood why the name Bonnie™ was repulsive to me. He’d said he wouldn’t want to be a brand, either. But now he’s sauntering toward us, relaxed—like he’s having fun. I look from Mom’s perfect hair to his easy grin; this was always going to happen again, wasn’t it? Stupid, stupid me.
“Bonnie™, go inside.” Mom’s still holding my arm, and I can almost feel my skin bruising underneath it, turning me purple. I shake her off, but she doesn’t notice. She and Chuck are having a staring contest.
I give the camera one more glare before I jump back in my car. The keys are still in the ignition, so I peel out of the driveway James Bond style, ignoring my mother’s shouts and the coffee that Lacey Production Assistant has dropped onto the front of her shirt in her haste not to die.
I can’t believe it. Despite all her promises, my mom has finally given in to MetaReel. After four camera-free years, the cast of Baker’s Dozen—my family—is back on the air.
Text copyright © 2014 by Heather Demetrios
Table of Contents
Baker's Dozen Cast,
Season 17, Episode 1 (The One with the Cameras) Fireside Chats with Kaye Gibbons,
Season 17, Episode 2 (The One with Bourbon and Cigarettes),
Season 17, Episode 3 (The One with the Retake) Praise for Recipe for a Happy, Healthy Family,
Season 17, Episode 4 (The One Where I Ditch School),
Season 17, Episode 5 (The One with Uno),
Season 17, Episode 6 (The One with the Retro Sunglasses),
Season 17, Episode 7 (The One with Spearmint Gum),
Season 17, Episode 8 (The One with the Tell-All),
Season 17, Episode 9 (The One with the Zombie Apocalypse)Baker's Dozen: Season 13, Episode 2,
Season 17, Episode 10 (The One with the Scones),
Season 17, Episode 11 (The One with the Photo Shoot) Baker's Dozen Promo Video,
Season 17, Episode 12 (The One in the Janitor's Closet),
Season 17, Episode 13 (The One with the Pepsi Freezes) Meet the Baker's Dozen!,
Season 17, Episode 14 (The One with the Skittles),
Season 17, Episode 15 (The One That's Live) Baker's Dozen: Season 10, Episode 9,
Season 17, Episode 16 (The One at the Mall) Associated Press Article,
Season 17, Episode 17 (The One with the Movie),
Season 17, Episode 18 (The One with the Autograph) Baker's Dozen: Season 13, Episode 9,
Season 17, Episode 19 (The One with the Enchiladas),
Season 17, Episode 20 (The One with the Notebook),
Season 17, Episode 21 (The One with the Tabloid),
Season 17, Episode 22 (The One with the Wrapping Paper),
Season 17, Episode 23 (The One with the Fort),
Season 17, Episode 24 (The One with the Diary),
Season 17, Episode 25 (The One with Kaye Gibbons),
Season 17, Episode 26 (The One with the Red Shirt),
Season 17, Episode 27 (The One with the Duct Tape) Viewpoints with Eileen Smith KTOK AM 540,
Season 17, Episode 28 (The One with the Lawyer),
Season 17, Episode 29 (The One with the Boutonnieres),
Season 18, Episode 1 (The One with the Beach Balls),
Season 18, Episode 2 (The One with the Suitcases) Celeb.com Article,
Season 18, Episode 3 (The One with the Letters),
Season 18, Episode 4 (The One with the Cap and Gown),
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
SOMETHING REAL is one of those books that (much like reality TV) seems lighthearted on the surface. Then you start reading, and you realize just how messed up these characters' lives are. Bonnie and her brother Benny are the only two kids in their family of thirteen who aren't happy that their family's reality show is going back on the air. With one last year of high school to get through, Bonnie in particular was hoping for a fresh start and an opportunity to leave the cameras and her dubious fame behind. She's also struggling with a pretty serious anxiety disorder, which was an unexpected gut punch for me in a story that's full of them. Because even though Bonnie's anxiety is handled in a heartbreakingly honest way on the page, it's also a burden that she's more or less left to shoulder on her own. I wanted to reach into the story and smack one or both of her parents at least two dozen times while I was reading, because they were both so much more concerned with fame and with themselves than they were with the children they were raising. On the other hand, I LOVED Bonnie's friends and her obvious friendship with her brother. It's so nice to see a male-female sibling pair who get along and enjoy each other's company, and hang out with each other's significant others without being overly protective. Especially since Benny's relationship with Matt and his friendship with Bonnie's boyfriend, Patrick, was one of my favorite things in the story. It didn't hurt that I fell in love with Patrick either. He was so sweet and so genuine, not one of those dramatic mopey bad boyfriend types who gets on their girlfriend's case the instant she makes one misstep. Their relationship starts pretty close to the start of the story, which could've been risky in the hands of another author, since we don't really know him when he and Bonnie get together. But Heather Demetrios more than pulls it off, and she does it in a way that makes Bonnie and Patrick's relationship feel almost inevitable, which takes serious skill. Plus, Patrick's treatment of and reactions to Bonnie's anxiety was exactly the kind of thing I would've needed to see in high school. Although I would've loved to see an epiphany moment from Bonnie's parents, I can't help but think that a family reconciliation would've been too simple. There's a lot of baggage that gets unpacked over the course of the book--between Bonnie and her family, the family and the company that films and produces the show, and also between Bonnie and the world. Fame doesn't have an expiration date the way most things do, and though SOMETHING REAL has a solid, self-contained ending, it's clear that most of the conflicts propelling the story aren't yet resolved. And I loved that, too. Reality TV may not be "real" but this book one hundred percent is, and if you haven't read it yet, you need to.
Something Real is a novel about Bonnie (AKA Chloe) Baker, a star of the reality show “Baker’s Dozen”. Her family—including her 12 siblings—are all displayed for the entire world to see, and judge. Bonnie does not handle the situation well and struggles to create a normal life for herself. I picked up this book because I was in love with Demetrios’s latest book, I’ll Meet You There. One thing that I’ve noticed is that she is really great at dealing with difficult topics without making the whole book depressing. It seems like the last chunk of books that I’ve read have all been really dark and depressing. I was really looking for a novel that I could speed through and still feel warm at the end of it. This book definitely delivered! It deals with topics such as abuse, homosexuality, suicide, and divorce without feeling too…heavy. She also isn’t making light of the topics either. It really is a perfect balance. Read the rest of my review here: http://judgingmorethanjustthecover.blogspot.com/2015/06/something-real-heather-demetrios.html
This book was part exhilarating and part frustrating. Great story!
Right off the bat, in an attempt to avoid confusion, I want to clarify that Bonnie Baker and Chloe Baker are the same person. Bonnie is essentially a brand that millions of households fell in love with during the course of the television show, Baker’s Dozen, while Chloe is the aftermath of Bonnie; Chloe is free from a stage-directed life but she still has the scars of her past. I will refer to her as Chloe from this point on. Also, this is quite a long review so buckle up and enjoy. The first thing that I noticed about this novel was that the book was divided into seasons and episodes instead of chapters. Her life isn’t measured in years, it’s measured in seasons. This was normal for her and her family though; there were many instances when Chloe would remember an event and instead of referencing the year or her age, she would reference the season. Since the show started at her birth, we pick up during her seventeenth “season”, four years after the show was off-air. She still has her scars from her past, the panic attacks that lurk in the back of her mind, her paranoia, and the “scandal” that ended the show. Throughout the novel, we get to see how they have affected her and how she handles them when situations arise. I loved Chloe because she was an imperfect teenager being imperfect; she didn’t always handle all situations that arose with grace or even dignity but she was real. Benton, or Benny as all of the people who really knew him called him, is Chloe’s brother and he is amazing. He is unwavering, even when he thinks she is overreacting or being ridiculous, he is still there, her constant. I love Benny. Patrick Sheldon. I could write this entire review over Patrick Sheldon and still not be satisfied. Patrick is the snarky guy who sits in the back of the classroom; he’s intelligent, well-read, and all around an awesome guy. I know that most people would choose Four as their fictional crush but not me, Patrick Sheldon is it for me. He asked her what her three favorite words were, what, that’s attractive. He singlehandedly made the word “excellent” the sexiest word in all of the human language. I love him, if you can’t tell. I will try to move on from my love of Patrick Sheldon. This book focused on reality versus appearance; the Baker family appeared to have it all but they were really broken. Instead of actually talking and connecting, they were forced to have any “real” conversations on camera which caused a fracture to begin with Chloe and her mom. Once all the cameras moved in, her house was no longer a home but rather a set for a television show. Chloe struggled with feeling like she belonged because so much of her life was spent cramming herself into the mold that someone else made for her. This book had a lot of hard hitting points which I loved! It gave it purpose and a message to get across which I love in a book, young adult or adult. I felt the story had three main messages; the first being that we as a society need to think about our obsession with shows like these. John and Kate plus Eight went through a similar situation as this family and this book really made me think about how hard it must have been. We think that we can candidly judge these people but we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. The second message was that teenagers matter. Chloe asks “Why do people think its okay to chalk everything up to hormones? As if they’re less real or something.” I love this quote because it pinpoints the issue, teenagers aren’t less real or inferior, and they have real emotions and problems. [A rant is about to happen, sorry, I easily get ranty.] I have always had a pet peeve about this, people just writing you off because you’re young or a woman. When I was in high school, I was taking five of my guy friends back to school and one of them broke my door. Yep, they broke my door. The inside just fell right off. I start yelling, naturally, I mean, they broke my door. Then, one of my idiot friends has the audacity to ask if it’s my time of the month, as if the only explanation for my anger is bleeding. People tend to write other people off but it isn’t that simple, they need to open their eyes and see. [End rant.] Last message: fame isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. “The whole country is sick. Sick with this idea that it’s good to be known and seen by as many people as possible, to show every part of our lives to the public at large. Whether its Facebook photos, blogs, or reality TV, it’s like nobody is content to just live.” AMEN. In the book, Chloe and her classmates are reading George Orwell’s 1984 and I love the comparisons to her own life that she makes throughout the book. She comes to her own by reading this and realizing that this is not what she wants and she needs to stand up to “the man” or in her case, MetaReel. Amen sister. The only thing that I didn’t really like about this book was that there were live 24/7 feeds. I watch Big Brother and I get it for that but for a family show….. It wasn’t super plausible but I understood why Heather put it in there. To conclude, Chloe has spent her entire life looking for somewhere to belong, something real (wink) that she could trust in and I love that we get to join her on her journey. It’s a really great book and I think that y’all should definitely read it. Five stars.
There’s so much reality TV on these days, I don’t really watch that much of it anymore. When it first aired, I was so drawn in, I would sit and stare and wondered exactly how much was real and how much was fabricated. I then started to think that perhaps my life was pretty boring, I didn’t have as much drama and adventure as these people on TV had, what was wrong with me? But then again, they’re only on one day a week and perhaps, they were saving up their drama for that one day when everyone’s eyes were on them. I was excited to read this book as it centered on a reality TV family. The book’s main character is Chloe who for the first 12 years of her life had her life televised for the whole world to see. Twelve years! I can’t even imagine how this family did it and as I read, I understood it was not an easy undertaking. The camera recording your conversations, your meals, your family time, for twelve years, ah…..not something for me but obviously something the Baker family had to do. It’s now 4 years later, the cameras are back and life is different for the Bakers. Chloe was just finally getting adjusted to her new life without the lights and the extra crew and she’s not happy with the news. Chloe is close to her brother Benny and the two of them try to cope with this new adjustment. They both have new relationships which doesn’t help the situation any and they both cope with this differently. I could talk forever about Chloe and Benny’s relationships with their significant others. There was such a deep passion and fondness for one another in these relationships. Tenderness, as they hung out or even when they were not in each other’s company, in their fun and caring ways with each other, you could just see the tenderness that they felt towards each other. While the rest of the world was trying to get everything right, this was right, these teens connected and it was genuine and true. The author showed us all the facets of the characters, bringing us their beauty and their ugliness to the scene. For we know not everyone is perfect and in reality TV, sometimes we forget this. Truly an amazing read, one that I greatly enjoyed.
There's so much I loved about this one. So many existing YAs about reality TV read a little young, and considering how much trauma we've seen so many child actors go through, and how many crappy endings, I wanted some that read a little older/edgier. SOMETHING REAL completely nails that on the reality TV show front, showing true, harsh, life-changing effects of growing up in front of the camera. Bonnie's feelings of helplessness and her lack of control are palpable, and it's maddening at times to read in a great way. The best part of the book, though, in my opinion, is the relationships - between Bonnie and Benny, Bonnie and Patrick, Benny and Matt, Bonnie and Lexie...so much cuteness and support, but also development. I would've loved to see more about how the legal plot point was resolved, and that felt very much like a loose end to me, but overall, definitely a high recommendation from me.
Something Real by Heather Demetrios gives readers fresh look inside the world of reality TV and the dangers that sharing your family with the world might inflict upon children. With it's flawed, but spunky heroine and cast of lovable and zany siblings, it is sure to drag readers in and not let go until the last page. Something Real is, in large part, about how reality TV can sometimes exploit children. I've never been forced to be on a reality TV show, but I can still feel Bonnie's pain and frustration. She was born on TV, grew up on TV, and made one of the biggest mistakes of her life for the whole world to see. When the life she thought she'd escaped comes back to haunt her present, she's the one with the most to lose. Bonnie's parents might be doing the show because they want the money to be able to give their children the things they never had, but how much is too much? How far do you go when you know you're hurting someone you love? These are all questions that the Baker family seemed to ignore throughout Something Real and that made me want to reach through the pages and shake some sense into them. Demetrios does a nice job adding dimension to such a large cast of characters. The book does focus more on the older Baker siblings and their parents, but the little ones are always around to add a little chaos to the atmosphere, which really spices up the drama. They aren't a huge part of the story and you tend to forget who's who—most of them never even get any lines—but that just adds to the chaos of the Baker home. But the main characters are all well developed, even if some of them made me roll my eyes a time or two. I just don't understand what goes through Bonnie's parents' minds. I get some of their motivations throughout the book, but it's like they're purposely trying to be dense. Maybe having 13 kids has made them a little callous to the needs of just one, but you'd still think they'd try to listen to their children's feelings about being on a TV show. Or, you know, at least ask what those feelings are before dumping a camera crew in their living room. As much as I agree with the fact that having 13 kids leaves a lot of mouths to feed and toilet paper to buy, I don't agree with ignoring the well being of one—maybe even most—of those kids, just for some money. There are other ways to take care of your family, especially when you KNOW that one of your kids hates being on the show so much she was willing to go to extreme lengths just to escape it the first time around. (Sorry for the rant. Ugh. They just made me so mad.) But, to be fair, Bonnie can be a bit of a whiner as well. Very woe is me and she never really gets over it. She seems to be very much like her mother in that way. Bonnie has a pretty good reason to complain (who wouldn't if you were suddenly thrown into a spotlight you didn't want?), but as her family and friends point out to her throughout the novel, she's choosing to let the bad outweigh the good of being in the spotlight. And if she really couldn't stand being in the limelight, than she could have done many things to fix the situation, but it was always "too much" for her to bother. She had anxiety issues, and, being someone with anxiety issues myself, I felt for her, but there comes a time when you have to do something about it besides complain to everyone around you how unfair life is. While the romance was cute and set a nice contrast to the dysfunction in the Baker house, it was sugary sweet in a way that left me feeling kind of bleh about it. There's really not much not to like about it, it was actually a very nice, semi-healthy relationship (though the clingy-ness factor was upped exponentially near the end). Just, personally, it didn't set my heart fluttering. Actually, I found it a little boring because it was so perfect. And then there was Patrick's complete lack of empathy for anyone he thought was putting an emotional burden on Bonnie. Which might sound like a nice caring way to be, except, for me, when it comes to my family don't tell me they're not my problem, dude. Seriously. Your younger siblings are your problem and you don't get to forget about them just because your parents make you anxious. That really irritated me about him, but still, I'm sure readers will fall for nice guy Patrick and his grunge good looks. Even though Something Real deals with issues like mental and emotional trauma and what should or should not be considered child abuse when reality TV is involved, it still felt like a light read. It's cute and fun and more than a little heart-warming at times, just like Baker's Dozen is meant to be! But, just like any good reality TV show, there's still drama galore.
In my family there's mostly girls. From me, to my sisters, to my cousins, to my cousin's children. And to make it even worse we're all exactly seven years apart. (It's a little weird lol) And trust me, we couldn't be more different if we tried. I used to think that with all our personalities and girlie meltdowns life couldn't get any worse. But then, I read this. And now, let me just say.... THANK GOODNESS FOR MY FAMILY. Bonnie™ Chloe is from a family of 13 children. To add to the chaos, her huge family stars in its own reality tv show. Of course this means there is no such thing as privacy in thier home. (This is where I started feeling thankful for my family.) Everything Chloe does is scrutinized and it's unfair. Chloe is a teen that never gets to be a teen and constantly gets reminded of the worst time in her life. As soon as she begins to feel the slightest bit normal, her world is turned upside down again. No one understands why she doesn't want her most private moments filmed for the world to see. No one understands that all she wanted was some things to herself. It's such unfortunate situation. But even though no one else is listening, there is someone who sees how unhappy she is. Patrick. And let me tell you, ladies and gentleman, he is way too perfect. Everything he does centers around Chloe. Normally, I'd be all for that, but their relationship was a little intense for them to be in high school. But, no judgement because there are high school sweethearts out there in the world. I'm actually thankful she had him to go to because she really had it rough. She really deserved to get her happily ever after. Both her and her brother. What I loved most about the book was the characters. For there to be 13 children, 3 parents, 2 boyfriends, 2 BFF's, about 3-4 camera/production people, and countless paparazzi, none of them felt flat to me.It really seemed like everyone had a purpose. Yes it was a bit chaotic, but look at the type of story this it. There was no way it wouldn't be... My favorite character was Benny. I liked the MC, but Benny was such a strong character. In the way he handled some things I was a little reminded of myself and I had to go back and evaluate some things. It's funny, I put this book on my TBR because of its bright, beautiful cover. I wasn't really expecting the inside pages to affect me like they did. Demetrios' writing style sucked me in completely. I felt all types of emotions while reading this. I swooned, laughed, and even got a little misty eyed! (That scene with the boyfriend shirt?! Yeahhhh...) From the amazing characters, to the chaos that is her family, to the emotional wild ride I was on while reading this, I enjoyed every bit of it. So much so I stayed up until 5 am finishing it (ON THE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME DAY SO I HAD ALREADY LOST AN HOUR OF SLEEP MIND YOU!) and I don't regret it. Now I'm just a little shocked that this is a debut.
Life in the spotlight In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review. I may not fit into the Young Adult category myself but I certainly enjoyed this YA novel that explores the pressures of growing up with the pressure of Reality TV. The novel begins with the introduction of Chloe/Bonnie. We first meet Chloe as she is getting her photo taken at school. She is making plans with her friends and being a rather normal teen girl. When she goes home that day, she finds that the camera crews that she thought were a thing of her past, have not only returned but their return was kept secret. Chloe grew up as Bonnie Baker, one of the stars of the Reality TV show Baker’s Dozen. The show is back and Chloe has nothing to say about it. Since the show last aired 4 years earlier, her parents have divorced and her mother has remarried. We see Chloe try to deal with the pressure of always having to worry about cameras, paparazzi, tabloids, and TV producers asking her to wear what they want and say what they. In addition, she is dealing with the normal teenage life of making friends, falling in love, and learning what she wants out of life. As I read this book, I empathized with Chloe. Being a teenager is hard enough without a camera filming your every move. I cannot image what it would be like to live my life inside Reality TV. I am so very glad that I grew up in a time before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram….not to mention camera phones. If my high school friends had photographed and posted every crazy thing I did at that age, I am not sure that I would show my face in public even now. This book dealt with some interesting social issues. Should we really as a society sit down to watch a family’s pain while eating popcorn? Even if it is entertaining? Even if it makes us feel better about our own lives? Maybe we need to think about subjecting kids to this type of environment. Adults can make their own decisions but child have no say in whether they are a part of this type of show. This book was well written and flowed quite smoothly. The characters were easy to relate to and the supporting characters were very well written. The only annoying thing that kept popping up in the book was the use of the trademark logo after the names of the Baker family. We understand that this family has sold their life to TV so there is no need to see the letters TM over and over again. This one flaw is easily overlooked. All in all this was a very good YA read. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars is half stars were allowed. I look forward to future works by Heather Demetrious.
So it's a good book