February 3, 2014

Something Real Blog Tour: Review + Interview + Giveaway

Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Publisher / Pub. date: Henry Holt and Co. / Feb. 4, 2014
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC from publisher in exchange for review. (Thanks!)

Summary: 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 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
As someone who's an only child and hates seeing herself on video, the idea of having 12 siblings and living life in front of a camera pretty much blows my mind. So the fact that Bonnie™ manages to be so down-to-earth and craves normalcy while managing to function like a regular person made me her #1 fan (pun intended). Her family were the stars of hit reality TV show Baker's Dozen and the cameras were on them 24/7 until the show was cancelled due to scandal and drama (you know, typical famous people stuff!). Since then, they've been living normal lives. Well, as normal as you can be with a 13 kids. They go to school, their parents divorced but their mom remarried, they have friends and most people nowadays don't recognize them. Then unknown to Bonnie™ and the rest of her siblings, their mother and stepfather decide to renew their deal with production company MetaReel to bring back Baker's Dozen and their lives spiral into chaos - again.

I experienced so many feelings while reading Something Real - indignation, anger (you'll understand when you meet MetaReel & Bonnie's parents), sympathy and a few swoony, giddy moments as well. The author's writing felt completely on target as she described what it's like to live your life on camera while trying to be a regular girl getting through her senior year of high school. Bonnie™ is immediately relatable and it's clear her experiences with reality TV have scarred her. But who can blame her! I imagine it can be traumatizing, which is portrayed through her fears and neuroses. But she tries to fight back in what little way she can for a regular life and I admired that about her. It also helps that she has an ally in her brother Benny. I really loved their relationship and if I ever had a sibling, I'd want to be as close as they are. Plus Bonnie has two solid best friends and a guy she really likes who may like her back. (That guy is Patrick Sheldon and he is the reason for all the swoons in this book!) All these things made me root even more for Bonnie to get the normal life she wanted.

Do I recommend?: Yes! I didn't expect to feel so invested in this story but I just could not put it down. I was totally fascinated by this "inside look" at reality TV and it really made me think about celebrities and how we view them. Not to mention a whole newfound appreciation for the word privacy. Trust me - read this book!
Interview with Heather Demetrios

The lovely author of Something Real stops by the blog for an interview!

Twitter | Goodreads
1. How did you come up with the idea for Something Real?
When "Survivor" came out (this is dating me, but whatever), it was the summer before my senior year in high school and I was living in the Ukraine. Random, I know. I was babysitting for this American family that was living there. Anyway, I basically missed the boat on that initial freak-out people were having over reality TV. When I came home, I just wasn’t into it. Over the years, these shows would come on and I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, so when other people around me were really invested in these shows, I ended up psychoanalyzing them, trying to figure out why we were watching them and what it meant about our society. So, that whole relationship I had to reality TV is what primed me to write the book. Then one day a couple years ago I saw a People magazine with the Gosselin kids on the cover and I thought, 'What would it be like to be one of those kids when they're a teenager?' So the book is really a "what if" story. It's me taking things to a possible logical conclusion; mainly that being a teen reality TV star is probably pretty messed up.

2. Even though my life is completely different from Bonnie's, there's just something so relatable about her and I really sympathized with what she was going through. Is she based on anyone you know or yourself?
Bonnie™ is dealing with a lot of the same stuff as most teens, just on a much more public level. Most teens struggle with their parents or come from broken homes and have challenging relationships with siblings. Teens—and I would argue, most people in general—are very self-conscious. They feel like everybody is looking at them, judging them. High school feels like you’re on a reality TV show, it’s just that the gossip is written on the back of bathroom stalls instead of in tabloids. So I think Bonnie™ is relatable because those of us who have been through adolescence were all there dealing with the stuff she deals with (on some level) and teen readers are living it right now. There are definitely parts of myself in her—I always wanted to travel as a teen and I still do. I travel a lot. But I was pretty outgoing in high school: I did drama, that kind of thing.

3. I don't watch any reality TV anymore but I used to be into Real World and The Hills way back when. What were or are some of your favorite reality shows?
We should talk about why you don’t watch reality TV anymore! I just find this topic endlessly fascinating—why we watch it, why we don't. I don't watch reality TV, but it kind of saved my life when I lived in South Korea. I was teaching English over there for a year and some of the only TV I could find in English was America’s Next Top Model and a knock-off of The Amazing Race. ANTM got me through some of my homesickness because it was just so ridiculous and they would show episode after episode and I would just binge on it. That's not to say I didn't get out of my tiny Korean apartment, I did—but there were some days when I just wanted to be home, you know? I tried to watch The Bachelor (this was on the Armed Forces Network, which always cracked me up because I’d be imagining all these Marines being like, WTF—why is this the only thing on??). But The Bachelor just pissed me off…continues to. No offense to anyone who watches it (actually, some guy I went to high school with was a contestant on The Bachelorette and, no, I will not tell you who he is). It just makes me sad. I’m a romantic who married the boy she met her freshman year in college. I can't handle love being dragged through the mud like that. That’s just my personal opinion, of course.

4. Would you ever want to be on reality TV? (I don't think I could ever do it!)
Nope. I really don’t think you could pay me enough. (Ha! Watch, now I'll get some crazy offer I won't be able to refuse). But, seriously, I can’t think of anything I'd be comfortable with and I hate being on camera (definitely a trait Bonnie™ and I share). I tend to respect the shows that involve people who have real skills and talents—like the cooking shows or Project Runway. But I don’t do anything that would be fun to film. Unless someone wants to sit and watch me type all day and bang my head on my desk.

5. I'm going to make the last question a fun one - what's something you're really loving right now? It could be a book, song, movie or a dessert. Anything!
I love this question! Okay, I am really loving the Olympics. My husband and I are obsessed, which is funny because we don’t really like sports. But the Olympics are different, you know? It has this whole awesome One World vibe.  I used to be a figure skater and that was my dream for most of my childhood, to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal. Now, obviously, that’s not happening, but getting to have my debut novel published during a winter Olympics is pretty sweet. So, I’m psyched to watch tons of skating and see more of Russia. I went there during the summertime but have always wanted to go in winter. I’m sort of a Russophile, so this is pretty epic.
Giveaway
Hopefully this review + interview have convinced you to read the book! Thanks to the author and publisher, we're doing a giveaway of SOMETHING REAL on the blog.

RULES:
1. Publisher provided the prize for the winner and will be the ones to mail the book out.
2. Once contacted, the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address. Failure to do so will mean the prize is forfeit, and a new winner will be chosen.
3. Contest ends Feb. 17, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

11 comments:

  1. I've been excited about this book ever since I heard about it but seeing that you clearly liked it so much, I'm even more psyched to get my hands on this! I'd love to know more about Something Real's reality TV aspect! I enjoyed reading your interview with Heather! I watch ANTM too! (Also, I'm jealous Heather has been to South Korea- it's a dream of mine to visit the place!) Great post as always, Rachel! <3

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  2. I've been excited about this book, too, after Jen from Pop Goes the Reader did a feature on it. It sounds like a great book and I'm happy that it seems so realistic, capturing the trials and difficulties of being a teenager.

    Your interview with Heather was really great, too, and it was interesting to know that the book was inspired by the Gosselin family. It's super neat that Heather lived in Ukraine and South Korea for a while, too. Totally jealous of her!

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  3. This book completely slipped under my radar until a few weeks ago when I started seeing early reviews popping up--they were all so positive! I have to admit that I'm really curious about the whole reality TV angle.

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  4. This book seems so interesting. I really can't wait to read it. I'm a reality TV sucker for sure.

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  5. This book is already on my TBR but I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it =) I find it really interesting that the author isn't into reality TV herself. Also, her comment about the Olympics is exactly the same as me. I normally hate sports but come Olympics time I watch it 24/7

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  6. I loved SOMETHING REAL! It was such a tantalizing read, and it kept me hooked from beginning to end. Your interview with Heather is SO FUN! I can't wait to get the chance to meet her in person this week :)

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  7. Reality shows- definitely love to hate them. Would not want to do one unless it paid so much money I couldn't refuse :)

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  8. So excited to get to read this! Hope I'd win the giveaway! ;)

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  9. Thank you for holding this giveaway!

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  10. This was a good interview. I'm really excited about this book!

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  11. I am in such a need for this book! Usually I'm not a fan of reality show-themed books, but ever since I read Reality Boy by A.S. King, I just fell in love with the way that the characters cope (or not cope). I'm excited to see how Bonnie deals with everything and see her relationship with her siblings and friends.

    I love watching reality shows, but I would never participate in them. Just thinking about it scares me! D:

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