Title: Something Real
Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
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.
The summary was the first thing that drew me into this book – I mean, read it and try not to be at least a little curious about this book. Then I started hearing some early praise for it, so I was even more eager to get my hands on Heather Demetrios’s debut. While it had some small problems, this luckily turned out to be just up my alley.
OK, first I’ll address my issues. Namely: Bonnie. It’s not that I disliked Bonnie, I just didn’t always like her. That might sound like the same thing, but it’s not. I just didn’t always connect with her. I often felt sorry for her, but when I wasn’t feeling sorry, I was sort of neutral towards her. She could be a little angsty, which was definitely understandable, but made me sometimes a little annoyed with her.
I also hated the way she treated her sister, Lexie. I thought Lexie was an interesting character, and if she had been treated differently then she could have been even more complex. I felt like we too often only got a glimpse of her character, and that had it been from her point of view then the story would have been just as, if not more, interesting. I think that was my main issue with the book, actually – I kind of wish that the story had been told from the point of view of someone else.
That being said, I did like the story and I often liked hearing about Bonnie’s life as well. It was fascinating hearing about the goings on of a very-invasive reality show and such a huge family. It was easy to forget who was who outside of the three oldest Bakers and I could have used a lot more moments of cute family togetherness, but the little that I got was just as interesting.
It was pretty fascinating how all-consuming the business of Bakers’ Dozen was, from the twisting of Bonnie’s life to the many trademarked names. The trademarks were actually a bit annoying and unrealistic (I mean, there are a lot of Bonnies in the world – there’s no way you can just trademark that first name), but it definitely added to the sense that this company can control just about everything, which is a plus.
I wasn’t always interested in the romantic drama, but the romance itself can be quite cute and sweet. It was nice to see Bonnie getting some happiness outside of her beautiful relationship with her brother.
And that was really one of my favorite things about this book. Benton might be my favorite character in this whole book, and he’s definitely a favorite in general. He’s gay, but it’s only part of his personality, which is what we need from all “special” characters (i.e. diverse characters with different races and sexualities whose personalities include more than one trait). Yes, he has a super adorable (and unfortunately closeted) relationship with a great boyfriend, but this isn’t the story of a reluctant coming out – it’s the story of a boy who’s perfectly comfortable with his sexuality but is willing to hide things to protect his privacy and his boyfriend. And the rest of his personality is so full and fun and great that it’s hard not to fall in love with this character, even without his beautiful relationship with his sister. I loved reading every scene that he was in.
I know there are multiple little complaints peppered through this review, but I really did enjoy this debut. It was a fascinating and terrifying look into reality TV, and it has me quite excited for future things from Demetrios, from her second debut later this year, a fantasy book, to her next contemporary book, which comes out next year. Their release dates can’t come soon enough.