Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Reality Boy by AS King
4 out of 5 stars
At first I was going to do a Literary Death Match for these two books, but then I realized it would be full of spoilers, so I nixed that idea. These are two very similar stories though, so I am going to discuss them together still. Like music-themed books, I have recently become obsessed with books about reality shows. Do I like reality shows in real life? Some. Not all. I love Amazing Race, So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother. I enjoy Say Yes to the Dress, The Voice, Dancing With the Stars. I cannot stand Dance Moms, Sixteen and Pregnant, Toddlers & Tiaras. So I guess you could say I enjoy the ones that are about the actual talent or about adults who are old enough to know what they're getting into. The ones about young children seem so exploitative and that is what these 2 books are about. Children being forced into a reality show by their (sometimes well-meaning) parents and the ways it affects them as they grow up.
née Chloe Baker's mother is doing to her and her twelve siblings. Their reality show, Baker's Dozen, has been off the air for 4 years and 17 year old Chloe is finally starting to feel normal again. When Chloe finds out that her mother has reignited their career, she wonders if she'll be able to handle it again. She barely did before and her part in the cancellation has haunted her since then.
Despite the fluffy theme, both these books attack some serious subject matter. Mental health, suicide attempts, extreme anger, parent/child relationships, homosexuality, eating disorders, it's all there. And it's handled really well. Chloe's anger at her mother for putting her in this situation again is heart-breaking at times. And yet, in the midst of all the drama (real and scripted), there is young love too. I had a hard time connecting with Gerald's romance, but Chloe and her boy made the tween in me squeal lol. Her brother, Benny, and his young love too. Even with all the anger in these two different teens, they both end on uplifting notes. Maybe they can change their futures and let go of their pasts. Sometimes that means creating new families in the process, but it can be done.