Something Real by Heather Demetrios
"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."- summary from Amazon
I'm a huge fan of books that feature reality TV, and this was definitely right up my alley. It's a little bit similar in tone to the amazing Reality Boy by A.S. King, though this is a bit more humorous and also deals with the reality situation both in the past and the present (whereas the show happened in the past in Reality Boy). Bonnie is a wonderful main character and I enjoyed reading her story and following along with her on her journey through this crazy situation she thought she had finally gotten out of.
I also loved a lot of the side characters. I will admit to not really being able to tell the younger siblings apart, but I feel like the main focus was more on the three older siblings (Bonnie, Benton and Lexie) and their parents and the strained relationship between them all. I particularly enjoyed Bonnie and Benton's relationship; it's fantastic to see two siblings getting along and having each others' backs. I also liked that Benton was gay (and it wasn't a big deal) and had a steady boyfriend; that made me happy to see.
Demetrios really does a great job of writing the family dynamics and nailing the dysfunctional nature of this family through the scope of reality TV. The writing is compelling and it's hard to put down the book. I always wanted to keep reading and see what happened next. I really felt for Bonnie, and think the ending is the start of good things to come, and I kinda hope there's a sequel. I feel like there should be more!
Also Patrick, the love interest, is pretty damn awesome and I love him. He's a wonderful contemporary swoon-worthy guy!
Overall, such a great debut and I cannot wait to read more from Demetrios, no matter what it is!!
Courtesy of Macmillan, I have a copy of Something Real to give away! The contest is open to US/Canada residents only. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, February 12 at 9pm EST and you'll be entered! Please leave your email address in the comment if it's not easily accessible (like by clicking on your Blogger profile).
and here's an interview with Heather:
A People magazine, believe it or not. Stories will find you anywhere—all you have to do is pay attention to the world around you and be open. The issue I saw had Kate Gosselin and her kids on the cover and it just got my mind spinning: what would it be like to be one of those kids, with the camera on them 24/7? It was really as simple as that (well…and my own personal feelings about reality TV and privacy).
2) You have two books coming out in 2014- a contemporary (Something Real) and a fantasy (Exquisite Captive). Do you like switching between the two genres, and is that something you think you'll continue to do in her writing career?
I love switching between genres. I’m actually writing a totally different thing right now—it’s kind of The Grapes of Wrath meets The Road, but more exciting and with cute boys. I’d even love to do sci-fi one day—I have a killer idea, but I’m not sure how to pull it off yet. Going back and forth between fantasy and realism keeps me on my toes. It’s challenging because of all the world building and all these different characters who have needs and wants and demand my attention. It might be a little bit like having thirteen kids. J For me, it’s all about the story I want to write and characters I fall in love with. You know how in Dirty Dancing Patrick Swayze says “Nobody puts Baby in the corner?” For me, it’s like, “Nobody puts Heather in a writing box.” Or something like that.
3) You're getting an MFA in children's writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. What's the best lesson you've learned from the program so far? Do you think it's beneficial for authors to get an MFA?
Wow, this is a tough question because I have learned so much there. Perhaps the best lesson I’ve learned at VCFA is that you never stop learning. You can always be better, go deeper, and push boundaries. I do think it’s incredibly beneficial to get an MFA, although it’s not necessary. I had a two-book deal before I entered the program and several students had way more than that before they made the decision to get the degree. I think that speaks volumes as to the quality of the education and the passion that VCFA students have for craft. I don’t think not getting an MFA and getting published is a bragging right, but neither do I think the MFA guarantees publication or necessarily makes you better than someone who doesn’t have it. Everyone has their own path. For me, I like having the confidence that comes with knowing that I have been seriously educated in my field. It’s not just about the writing—for me, it’s about being able to meaningfully contribute to and be an advocate of the genre of children’s and young adult literature and—again this is just for me—I think having a degree will help me to do that a bit better. All that being said, it’s really expensive to get an MFA and not everyone has the opportunity to do that. And not all programs are equal—some, I’ve heard, can actually mess with your writing Zen. So, MFA or no, I firmly believe all writers need to commit to their craft. It’s not enough just to write a book—anyone who has a modicum of intention and has the ability to sit in a chair and type for long lengths of time can do that. A book should be so, so, so much more.
4) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, your favorite snack to have while writing or as a reward for writing?
I seriously hope this involves actual Jelly Bellies! I love those sour ones or the watermelon flavor. They actually are a pretty good writing snack because they don’t get your hands all messy. Sometimes I eat those individually wrapped Dove chocolates because the sayings inside them crack me up.
5) What are you currently reading, or are about to start?
I’m currently reading A.S. King’s REALITY BOY—I like to think great minds think alike. J She’s also my advisor for school, so that’s fun. Yesterday, I just picked up Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory, which is about PTSD, an issue I talk about in my realism from Macmillan that’s coming out next year. There are so many great books out! My TBR list gets longer every day.
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.