|THE REAL REAL|
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
Wallflower-turned-famous stories are always a bit hit and miss with me, but The Real Real was definitely a hit. The storyline plays off of the reality show scenes we've seen again and again -- the short conversation that, thanks to a fitting soundtrack, seems so important, or the rivaling groups that seem to be fighting over absolutely nothing -- while giving a "behind the scenes" story that's so much more complicated and interesting than the one on screen. Jesse is intelligent and mostly level-headed, but it's her humor and go-with-the-flow attitude that makes her so relatable. Sure, the show isn't exactly her idea and she does think about quitting early on, but despite this she doesn't spend her time whining about how unfair everything is, even as the show seems to be ruining all the good things in her life. Instead, she takes control of the few things she can control and views her fellow cast members as allies instead of enemies. Though some of the characters here are fairly stereotypical, they're interesting and entertaining stereotypes. This book earnestly touches on a few themes: friendship and personal responsibility among them, but it never lingers too long on these themes.
This book is funny as it simultaneously mocks and shows a real affection for reality television shows. I reached the end of the book hoping there would be a sequel; I think originally this was the start of a planned series but I can't find any information on the next book, which is a shame as the ending works so much better as the first in a series than it does as a stand-alone. Despite the lack-of-closure in the form of a second book, The Real Real is one of the best wallflower-turned-famous books I've read. Just like its protagonist, the novel is funny and smart, great for those of us who like to watch reality television and those who like to make fun of it.