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The Real Real

Review

The Real Real

When XTV picks Jesse O'Rourke as a teen star for their new reality TV series, she can't believe it. Her best friend Caitlyn might have been expecting to get the part, but she wasn't. Suddenly Jesse's job at the Prickly Pear serving muffins and ice cream seems to be only a temporary reality, and she can actually envision herself as the first person in her family who will get to go to college. Her parents can't be more excited, but not all of Jesse's friends and classmates seem to share that enthusiasm. The other stars of the show don't think that Jesse and Drew are worthy of stardom or any sincere attention from the elites. And Caitlyn feels very hurt to be overlooked and needs the scholarship just as badly as Jesse does. 

Once Jesse is thrown into filming, she finds that the whole experience is a lot of hype and hassle. Unlike the other girls on the program, Jesse isn't the type to wear four-inch platforms, furs and loads of makeup. But they want her beautiful, so the old Jesse is gone in a heap of cosmetics and used designer clothes. After a mere six hours in the XTV trailer, a whole new Jesse is revealed to the world; she doesn't even recognize herself.

On top of all that, her former life has completely disappeared, especially all the parts she really liked. She has no free time to hang out with Caitlyn anymore because she must spend every free minute being primped and glammed in a network trailer or on set in all-night filming sessions. XTV even quit her job for her without asking. The idea in the beginning that she would live her regular life and they would just film alongside her isn't the reality Jesse is living; the only reality left is what the producer picks for the show.

A major perk to the deal, though, is that Drew is also on set with Jesse a lot, and she likes him more and more all the time. One day when Drew asks Jesse out, he leaves her breathless. Could there be any other guy for her? Fletch from XTV seems to feel that Jesse has more heat with Jase than with Drew, who happens to be another star's boyfriend, and does his best to cause a spark between them. Jesse begins to wonder how on Earth she'll manage to get to know Drew, and he to know the real Jesse, in the middle of this alternate reality made up by XTV. And, even worse, is Fletch right about her and Jase? 

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, bestselling authors of THE NANNY DIARIES, has written a fabulous book with a superb story. I loved Jesse and Drew as characters and felt that the message behind the tale was impressive and well-spoken. The novel gets into the personalities of all the teen stars and shows the consequences of their actions. It also sheds light on those who act so superior, but in the end are more insecure than Jesse ever was. It's a wonderful statement about being yourself and being real. Jesse and Drew are funny and great together, and their romance --- although tentative --- takes center stage. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Melanie Smith on May 19, 2009

The Real Real
by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

  • Publication Date: December 22, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0061720429
  • ISBN-13: 9780061720420