Title: For Real
Author: Alison Cherry
Publisher: Delacorte Press
No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.
Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.
When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.
But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life… or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?
I haven’t read any of Alison Cherry’s other books, so I came into this book a bit unsure of what to expect. I was hoping for a sister-centric adventure, and while I didn’t get that, this book was still fairly entertaining.
The beginning is what I expected from this book – two sisters working together to get revenge while (not really) dealing with some big issues in their relationship. I expected the problems to be introduced and then dealt with, but I feel like I didn’t quite get that, even later in the book.
As I had said, I expected a plot based on the sister relationship, but it was much more focused on romance and Claire’s personal growth. There’s nothing wrong with a plot like this, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, so I’ll admit that I was disappointed.
I felt like the really interesting characters were secondary ones that didn’t get a lot of attention, while the ones that did were pretty boring (ie, Claire and her love interest, Will). I wanted more of Claire’s sister, Miranda, for example, but I just didn’t get that. We got glimpses, but that just wasn’t enough. It made the story slow down for me because I was unhappy with the romance and the focus on this “connection” between Claire and Will, and I just wanted to focus on different characters. There was a relatively large cast of characters on this competition, but so many characters were simply names, and I just got tired of not learning more about them instead of Claire and Will.
There is some diversity, but it’s only amongst the background characters. Claire and her sister are both white, straight, and their family seems to be comfortably middle class – same with the love interest, Will. Miranda’s ex-boyfriend is Indian, and the love interest’s friend might have been Asian, but other than the ex, none of the diverse characters really got any attention, which was just a shame. Traveling around to different countries, the diversity could have been rich and interesting, but it just wasn’t.
The Adult Situation
Claire is eighteen and she’s on a competition around the world that isn’t chaperoned by her parents, so it’s not surprising that they don’t have much of a role in the story, but it was kind of frustrating how little personality they got even in the little parts they were in. They were Parents, not people.
As I already said, I just didn’t care for the romance, so it made it difficult for me when it focused on said romance. It was nice that Cherry didn’t go with a traditional, happy ending type romance, but since I just didn’t care all that much about it, that’s really all that I can say in terms of positive feedback.
The ending is when Claire really began to grow and become more sure of herself, but there still wasn’t enough sister bonding for me. A nice, neat ending, but I could have used more sister- and friend-bonding.
This book was fun in terms of following a competition, but I didn’t care about the character growth and romance nearly as much. If Cherry can write better character arcs in the future, then I’d definitely be up for trying more books from her.