Something Real by Heather Demetrios
A glimpse into what life would be like as a reality show star.
Chloe Baker likes being normal and attending her regular high school. It’s been four years since Baker’s Dozen went off air, and Chloe still has issues dealing with the publicity and drama of that life, so much that her real name is actually Bonnie. Now, her mother and new stepfather have decided to do the reality show again, and Chloe finds out unexpectedly, reacting with forgivable teenage angst and depression. Though she loves her siblings and can understand that it must be hard to provide for a family of fifteen, she doesn’t want to be involved in the new show and the only one on her side is Benton, her brother. Every time she tries to speak with her mother about her privacy and feelings, Chloe is filmed and edited, type-casted as a typical troubled teen. Her only refuge is school and Benton, but just as Chloe figures out she doesn’t need to put the rest of her life on hold (despite the ever-present danger of MetaReel) and finds love instead, Chloe and Benton are exposed by the media: Chloe’s secret relationship with a (very nice) boy from school and Benton’s homosexuality with his secret boyfriend. As Chloe and Benton learn to navigate the shark-infested waters of their tv show family drama, they also learn to stand up for their independence, their rights as private citizens, and for love. A surprisingly believable novel that will warm your heart and make you wonder just what is real about reality tv and how do you overcome the stigma that follows.
I really loved reading this book! It was fascinating!
Note: Some sexual references, language, and other issues (suicide, drugs, alcohol).
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Two teens’ lives surprisingly intertwine as a boy with a troubled past is reformed by love.
The night of a wedding where Wren Caswell is unfortunate enough to be serving pigs in blankets as cocktail appetizers, she witnesses a boy choking. As she realizes no one is going to help him, she steps in and delivers the Heimlich, forging a quick and strong connection that can only happen in the face of possible death. The boy, Grayson Barrett, finds a new outlook on life and an irresistible desire to find out more about the girl that saved him. He unknowingly falls in love with her and she with him, but Grayson’s former life won’t leave him alone so easily. He becomes embroiled in a plan to get away from his old life by doing one last “favor”, and everything falls apart when Wren finds out.
The stars seem stubbornly crossed for these two teens, but maybe you really can start over in life…
Notes: Some sexual references, language and other issues (drugs, alcohol).
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Another addictive and intriguing novel by the great E. Lockhart follows the Sinclair family, an island kingdom ruled by the male patriarch, the three adult daughters who fight over everything their parents own and have messed up relationships, and the effect this life has had upon their oldest children: Johnny, Mirren, Gat (sort of adopted), and Cadence (eldest). Cadence, our narrator, weaves a mystery of the Liars and how something very significant happened during summer fifteen, something devastating that left Cadence troubled, depressed, and suffering from awful migraines and amnesia. Though she’s asked a hundred times what happened, nothing seems to stick with her until she can finally return to their island and puzzle it all out together for herself. What she finds out is a twist so surprising that the reader practically doesn’t see it coming.
This book will keep you reading and stay with you long after you read it, though perhaps not as long as The Fault in Our Stars.
Notes: Mental trauma, drugs, alcohol, and other issues.
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Acquaintances form a bond when they both recognize signs of pain and abuse in each other, keeping each other’s secrets and providing security in the midst of trauma.
Alexi Littrell never thought she would be friends with the Kool-Aid Kid, as he’s commonly known around school for his ever changing uncommitted hair color, but she finds herself wanting to just be there for him after he becomes a pariah because his father murdered his mother. Having previously had a traumatic experience over the summer, Alexi hides her pain from everyone, but still cannot stop making the back of her neck bleed as she unconsciously punishes herself. Alexi knows what it is like to be in pain, and this brings her to feel for Bodee Lennox, the Kool-Aid Kid. When Alexi’s parents take him in, Alexi surprisingly finds a real ally, a secure friend, (other than the one she writes lyrics to on her school desk every day and knows as Captain Lyric), and together Bodee and Alexi give each other strength and find courage in the midst of such turmoil.
While this might seem like a real downer of a novel, it was inspiring, uplifting, beautiful and a must read for anyone hurting from abuse or depression. On Goodreads, I gave it 5 stars, even though I thought the novel perhaps wrapped up a little too neatly in one aspect. Truly, truly encouraging, and if you liked The Fault in Our Stars despite the cancer saga, you will like this one even if you’re uncomfortable reading about abuse. I fully expect this will be an award winner of some sort this year.
Note: Sexual, physical, and mental abuse situations as well as alcohol and trust problems.