Friday, March 28, 2014

Something Real by Heather Demetrios [Review]

Something Real4 out of 5 Robots!

Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release: February 4, 2014
Hardcover: 403 Pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
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.

Heather Demetrios' Something Real is the winner of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
Something Real was much heavier than I was expecting.  I was expecting a bit of a satire, some humor, maybe an epic showdown or two, followed by a coming of age moment and some family healing.  And to extent, that's what happens.  But the subject matter is much heavier than I thought: suicide, homosexuality, virginity, child abuse, substance abuse, sexuality.  It's all there.  The emotions and psychological damage ran much deeper than I expected and sometimes I was genuinely shocked at some of the things that happens.  And I think what makes it all a little harder to take is that the plot is not far fetched at all.  It reeks of Jon and Kate Gosselin.  You can definitely see the similarities - especially where the parents are concerned.

But, I liked the heavier subject matter and the fact that the author was really willing to "go there" in a few instances.  It didn't feel over too over the top or fantastical.  Because of that, it felt fairly real.  You can imagine that this is how things could go down in a situation like this.  With the exception of one thing.  The romances.  Bonnie™'s boyfriend is almost too good to be true.  He is amazingly supportive and unquestioning.  He has amazing parents.  Similarly, Bonnie™'s brother has a boyfriend who is also amazingly supportive and unquestioning. On one hand, I thought it was all adorable, but it does stand in sharp contrast to all the other negative things happening.  It felt just a tad TOO perfect.  Especially at the end.

Another thing I liked was that Bonnie™ was very much a real person.  She is not perfect at all and runs away from her problems instead of dealing with them.  She has a temper and a mouth on her, but she is also fiercely loyal to her brother.  And she is a forgiving person.  I absolutely loved the relationship between her and her brother.

Overall, I thought this was a very good contemporary novel.  Sometimes I felt it went on a bit long.  Or rather, I wish we had learned more about her other siblings and family, especially considering how long the book was.  I also would have liked to see more of a resolution at the end.  Some strands are left dangling, but for the most part I thought it ended well.

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