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Something Real

Review

Something Real

Exactly when is real “real”? In the world of Chloe Baker, the lines are crossed so often that she lives in a state of chaos.  For much of her childhood, cameras followed her family around in an absurd reality show called “Baker’s Dozen.” They pulled back for a few blissful years and Chloe thought that her life might progress in a normal way, but early on in SOMETHING REAL, she discovers something awful --- once again, the cameras are moving in and any hope for privacy will become a thing of the past.

Only her brother Benton (Benny) seems to share her frustration and anger over this situation.  Her younger siblings and her sister, Lex, find it all a great adventure.  It doesn’t bother them that their every move will be followed.  It doesn’t bother them that their home is a stage, carefully orchestrated to “appear” a certain way.  It doesn’t bother them that even their clothing is picked out to convey a special look.  Chloe’s name is even changed to Bonnie for the series --- doesn’t Bonnie Baker just have that special ring to it? Everything is done for the camera and everything comes down to making money.  Her mother is half-crazed with the glitz of it all and her stepfather goes meekly along.  Of course, besides Benny and Chloe, they have all put the trauma and scandal that originally brought the series to an abrupt end behind them.  You remember, that little incident with Chloe’s dad’s “philandering” and, oh yes, her own suicide attempt. The public ate it up but it was maybe just a little too much reality. Then there was the divorce, the second marriage, more adoptions and…you get the picture. 

Heather Demetrios is a fantastic addition to the world of young adult literature.

A senior in high school, 17-year-old Chloe is trying to keep the “reality” world a secret as long as she can.  She has started a fitful relationship with a wonderful boy named Patrick.  She worries constantly about dragging him and/or any of her friends into the reality show with her.  She wants out.  She begs to be left alone but her mother thinks she is just suffering from teen angst and will come to her senses.  Her real father seems all but lost to her (though his unexpected visit practically causes WWIII.)  And what happens when her friends and her boyfriend discover that she is the Bonnie in “Baker’s Dozen”?

Heather Demetrios has created some strong characters in this sharp, fast-paced story.  Chloe is independent, strong and well-intentioned during a time when most adolescents care only for themselves.  Patrick is the kind of boyfriend who is supportive and mature beyond his years (so romantic, too!).  Your respect for Chloe’s sister Lex grows as you understand her, and Benny is a great brother who has his own issues to consider in the circus world of their family.

This debut novel, which won the PEN (New England Discovery Award) for Young Adults, is a thoughtful, painful look at a kind of craziness that sweeps through our society. Fans will definitely want to check out the author’s excellent website, www.heatherdemetrios.com, which is full of some of her inspirations, her personal stories, her lovely collages and descriptions of more upcoming works.  Heather Demetrios is a fantastic addition to the world of young adult literature.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on February 4, 2014

Something Real
by Heather Demetrios

  • Publication Date: February 4, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0805097945
  • ISBN-13: 9780805097948