Review: Something Real Lightens the Reality TV World

Something Real by Heather Demetrios is an eye opener to the other side of the camera of reality tv shows that many people are drawn to today. Heather Demetrios’ debut novel tackles a subject that many authors are scared to even dip their toes into. Something Real focuses on Bonnie Baker, who was born live on her family’s tv show Baker’s Dozen. Bonnie’s mom, Beth Baker, has always dreamed of having thirteen children and sets out to complete this goal all while doing the reality tv show. The show got cancelled after several events occurred: Beth and her husband got divorced and Bonnie tried to commit suicide. Beth then decides to cancel the show and move to California, far from the New Hampshire house, and begin anew. At the beginning of Something Real, we meet Chloe Baker, Bonnie’s new, made-up name, who is trying to make a life out of a lie. Chloe and her brother Benton have created friendships at their new high school four years after the cancellation of the show. Little do they know that their mom and step-father, Kirk, are having financial problems, which contributes to the need to start up Baker’s Dozen once again. Throughout the book readers are introduced to many characters, such as Patrick Sheldon, who help Chloe and Benton fight MetaReel, the producers of the show.

Bonnie/Chloe Baker is the protagonist of this contemporary novel, and she is a bit of an annoying one. Right away in the beginning of the book, after she finds out that Baker’s Dozen is coming back to television, she runs away to an orchard. This was totally okay, and I was hoping to see more of this orchard appear in the book. However, this Chloe never went back despite having multiple occasions where she could have. Readers were told that Chloe went to the orchard all the time in the past, but there was no evidence in the present book to support that fact. We are quickly introduced to Benton Baker, Chloe’s brother, who also found out about the show occurring in much the same fashion Chloe did. Readers loved the banter between the two siblings, but more on that later. As the story unfolds, readers learn more about Chloe’s history of the show that she was born on. They discover that one of the reasons Baker’s Dozen got cancelled was due to Chloe trying to commit suicide by swallowing pills, which got brought up multiple times throughout the book. I felt like Chloe didn’t want to drag out the fact that she tried to swallow a ton of pills, but every single other person in her family wanted the exact opposite. I get that you can be worried for a while after the incident, but four years afterwards? That’s extensive and annoying. However, the few times that other characters did mention her past attempt, Chloe would drag out her thoughts on the matter. Readers do agree with Chloe’s thoughts of MetaReel and begin under the spotlight being the prime purpose of the attempt. Throughout the book Chloe fights for her rights, and keeps up her relationships. She also develops greatly as a character and helps other characters develop as well.

A prime example of a character developing with Chloe’s help is her brother Benton. Benton Baker is a homosexual who is still in the closet to his family. His boyfriend, Matt, is also in the closet to his family due to religious reasons. Readers absolutely loved Benton and his ways of not holding any of his opinions back. Benton was a prime example of a protective, big brother while still being a best friend that cared about Chloe’s wild actions. His recurring problem of being gay, and not being able to come out of the closet due to Matt’s begging, was one that teenagers could relate to. In some ways, Benton is more relatable than Chloe is in Something Real. Benton brings many people into Chloe’s life, but she doesn’t always seem grateful. However, in her teasing and bantering way readers could see that she does in fact care about Benton’s emotional state as well. There’s not many ways to describe Benton because he’s just Benton.

Patrick Sheldon is a favorite secondary character for almost every reader everywhere. Patrick was the reason why I kept on reading the book after Chloe started to annoy me. His dry humor and teasing eyes pulled me along. Readers would have loved to have more of his input on situations in the book. I have no idea why Chloe didn’t date Patrick sooner than when she did. He’s amazing and cares deeply for Chloe despite what he has to go through just to see her due to the paparazzi that swarms around her family. Patrick deserves more than he can get from Chloe, but that doesn’t stop him. Every girl deserves someone who cares about her like Patrick does for Chloe. I think Patrick should get his own special book from Heather Demetrios.“He looks like the kind of boy who would jump trains, strum guitars, and pass a joint.” is how Chloe’s character internally describes Patrick, and it is spot on with what we learn about him. Not that he actually does drugs because Patrick is secretly a genius. Patrick Sheldon, ladies and gentlemen!

There were very few things that actually annoyed readers with Something Real, and Beth Baker and her second husband Kirk were two of them. Kirk was introduced as a laid-back kind of stepfather/guy. This theory is quickly unraveled as he gladly lets Beth startup Baker’s Dozen again, just because they need the money. Sure, you can have financial problems, but when you start exploiting your children so you can get an income, then something is wrong with you. This was easily one of the most backwards character developments in the history of character developments. Kirk doesn’t even apologize about anything that happens in the course of the book despite his quick understanding to why Chloe and Benton don’t want to do the show. Beth Baker was never as awesome as Kirk was, and her character was the definition of a static character. There was literally no character development despite the minimal times that she smiled for pleasure and not the cameras. Not one reader was rooting for Beth Baker’s character, and that says a lot about her.
Overall Something Real shows readers that cameras and uploading your life onto technology and social media isn’t the best thing one can do at that moment. Spend your life with the people you love, and don’t worry about what other people you’ve never met will say about it. The most important motif that Heather Demetrios emphasizes in Something Real is this: stay true to yourself despite your constantly changing surroundings and experiences.

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