Something Real by Heather Demetrios is about a girl named Bonnie who has had no choice but to live the majority of her life in front of a camera for all of America to view. She was even born on camera and now, after a small hiatus and a promise from her mother that she will never put her through reality television again, the show, Baker’s Dozen, has returned. Bonnie is one of twelve children and all she’s ever wanted is a normal life away from everything she had grown accustomed to. She is constantly seen on tabloids and people who are strangers to her judge her decisions and gossip about her personal life so it’s very understandable that she would want to escape that lifestyle.
I really enjoyed reading Something Real, particularly because of the way Demetrios forces the read to examine society. I am one of a fraction of people who have spent a few months of my life living on the set of a reality television show and being followed by cameras 24/7 and I can honestly say that the way Demetrios portrayed everything is very similar to my own experience. It was actually hard to read at times because when the evil producer Chuck would threaten Bonnie I felt like I was having flashbacks to working with some of my producers. Not that they were all evil, there was one producer I worked with that I really liked who I suppose would be the equivalent to Bonnie’s Sandra. Producers are constantly withholding information from the cast because they’re trying to make the best show possible. I think you might have to be some type of sociopath to work as a producer in reality tv and be able to lie to people’s faces so easily (I think I may write a more in depth blog post about my own experiences with this some time in the future).
The novel focuses primarily on the Bakers’ a) Bonnie who has clearly suffered psychological damage as the result of the show, c) her brother Benton who is gay but not publicly so, c) their sister Lexie who is hungry for fame. There are several siblings of Bonnie’s who are underdeveloped but it would’ve been impossible to give them more page time without taking away from the siblings the story centered on. I also felt like their underdevelopment is a testament to Bonnie’s relationship with them because there are so many siblings that it makes sense for her to communicate the most with those who are similar in age. I can also say that I despise Bonnie’s mother. She makes poor decisions without even considering the rest of her family.
In Something Real there is a wonderful parallel drawn between Bonnie’s situation and George Orwell’s 1984 which absolutely enriched the story. The class discussions really made me think about the way people would act if they were left to their own devices as opposed to constantly being monitored. I have no clue how Bonnie withstood as much time her classroom as she did given her current situation. Her crush also makes a good point that even though society today isn’t being followed around by cameras, everyone monitors everyone else online through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Final Thoughts: Something Real by Heather Demetrios is a thought provoking YA novel about the state of society and the impact of reality television. The main character Bonnie will never lead a normal life after spending her entire youth in front of a camera and having all of her personal situations broadcast for America to see. Bonnie is desperate to leave the show without destroying her relationship with her family but it just doesn’t seem like she’ll be able to find a way to do so.
There’s nothing real about reality TV. 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 and the scandal surrounding it, 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 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. (via Goodreads)