BOOK REPORT for Something Real by Heather Demetrios

 

Cover Story: We’re Experiencing Technical Difficulties
BFF Charm: Ron Swanson
Swoonworthy Scale:
 6 + 2 = 8
Talky Talk: Straight Up with a Dash of E! True Hollywood Story
Bonus Factors:
 Reality TV, Diversity, 1984
Relationship Status: High School Sweethearts

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Something Readl

Cover Story: We’re Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Y’all, I love COLORS, esp. those that are BRIGHT and OBNOXIOUS, but this is a Technicolor nightmare: Most of those TVs probably predate remotes. And why is that font for "Real" from Office 2003 WordArt? This cover so does not get a season pass.

The Deal:

For the past four years, Bonnie™ Baker has been trying to escape Baker’s Dozen, the reality show that catapulted her and her family of 13 kids to B-List celebrity-dom. (No one needs that much—or any, omg—documentation of those awkward tween years, amirite?) Having changed her name and appearance, the new Chloe is more than happy to slink into obscurity. Just one hitch, though: Baker’s Dozen is getting revived. And Chloe’s going to have to take a stand to preserve the new life that she’s worked so hard to build.

BFF Charm: Ron Swanson

BFF Ron Swanson

Oh, Chloe. That desperate desire for normalcy is something anyone that didn’t (or doesn’t) quite fit in can relate to. Add to the fact that you’ve had no say in having your life televised since quite literally birth, and my heart breaks for you a thousand times over. (Not to mention that we’d be goody-goody and musical soul sisters, and you know where all the good thrift stores are!)

My gut instinct is to make like my fave parks and rec director, whose solution to every problem is to live inside a mountain—a blissfully technology and social media-free mountain. Then again, that means we’d have to churn our own butter and whittle our own furniture. (Or, more likely, learn to live without butter and furniture, since I can do neither of those things.) And retreating into isolation would only increase the control that Baker’s Dozen has over Chloe’s life. So instead, I’ll do the very un-Swanson thing of whisking her off to travel around the world that she so desperately wishes to see. (But the Ron charm might be the greatest thing I’ve ever created, so it stays.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 6 + 2 = 8

Sigh, the romances in this book make even the coldest and darkest hearts (ahem, such as that of your reviewer) cast aside their cynicism. The relationships aren’t sickly sweet, but they’re such ideal first loves. Chloe’s been full-time crushing on Patrick Sheldon (yes, he needs full name status), whose swooniness manages to transcend the greasy state of his hair and the occasional inclination for cheesiness. (But GOOD cheese. Like the wine-pairing fancy kinds that are only found at specialty markets. Or, for my definition of yummy cheese, Mini Babybel.) 

And SUPERLATIVES EXCLAMATION MARKS for Chloe’s brother, Benton™, and his longtime boyfriend, Matt. Not since mysterious loner dude extraordinaire Marcus Flutie has a red shirt been used to such great effect. YEAH, I WENT THERE.

Talky Talk: Straight Up with a Dash of E! True Hollywood Story

"Something real" might as well describe Heather Demetrios’ writing style, 'cause the lady had me nodding my head in agreement and bookmarking all over the place. And if this isn’t the mantra of the misunderstood teenager, I don’t know what is:

Why do people think it’s okay to chalk all teen emotion up to hormones? As if they’re less real or something.

Along with Chloe’s recollection, presented as a memoir, are omnipresent reminders of the impact of Baker’s Dozen on her family: show transcripts, articles, name trademarks and time references of TV seasons rather than years. It takes a little getting used to, but it def. contributes to the sense of how effed up from the neck up this sitch is.

Bonus Factor: Reality TV

reality TV-2

As someone who can still rattle off the names of everyone in the photo above, I’ve since done a complete 180 re: kid-centric reality shows. I’m sure there are or will be children that emerge from the experience unscathed, but I can’t help my kneejerk Helen Lovejoy reaction. (“The children! Won’t somebody please think of the children?!”)

Bonus Factor: Diversity

something real - diversity

No need to feel excessive sympathy for Bonnie’s mom’s uterus (or for her at all, but anyway), since she had her 12 kids other than Bonnie via surrogacy or adoption, both internationally and through foster care. I totally dig the shout-outs to another prolific multicultural family, with two of Chloe’s siblings being named Farrow™ and Lark™. And racial diversity extends to Chloe and Benny’s circle of friends, too.

Bonus Factor: 1984

1984 - something real

Pretty much the only non-heinous grownups are the ones at Chloe and Benny’s school, with the best being Schwartz, the gov teacher that has Chloe’s class studying 1984. Obvs, its theme of constant surveillance strikes a familiar chord with her.

Casting Call:

My picks are a little different than Heather Demetrios’, but my Chloe and Benny have her seal of approval (and introduced her to the crazily addictive Dance Academy!). Those two just have such great BFF chemistry.

Xenia Goodwin-2

Xenia Goodwin as Bonnie™ Chloe

6-tomgreen

Tom Green as Benton™

7-evanpeters

Evan Peters as Patrick Sheldon

8-tayediggs

Young Taye Diggs as Matt

Cheating, since that comparison’s directly from the book. But I’ll take any excuse to include a photo of young Taye Diggs.

9-brucecampbell

Bruce Campbell as Chuck, the Baker's Dozen producer

Relationship Status: High School Sweethearts

Even though this book has a CRAZY home life, its characters utterly charmed me and won me over. I don’t know if it'll find a permanent place in my heart, but the memories of our time together will always give me the warm fuzzies.

Something Real is available now.

Mandy lives in Edmonton, AB, where she does science-y things for work, bloggish things for Forever Young Adult, and froyo things for always.