Published: February 4th, 2014
By: Heather Demetrios
Henry Holt BYR
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 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.
Ever since Bonnie™ Baker was born, her life has been documented on film and watched on TV by millions of strangers. They got to see her and her many siblings (twelve to be exact) grow up -- and their family fall apart. The show ended with Bonnie's parents getting divorced and her barely alive after a failed suicide attempt. Now four years later, Bonnie is just beginning to heal from the anxiety, depression and isolation that being on TV brought to her life. Going by the name Chloe, she has close friends, a boy she likes and a decent relationship with her siblings. Then Chloe/Bonnie™'s Mom invites the camera crews back into their lives, rekindling the show after writing a tell-all book. Of course she doesn't tell any of the kids about it until the crews show up. Bonnie and her brother Benton are absolutely furious. The last thing they want is to be back under a microscope. Can they find a way to take control of their own lives, in the face of total dehumanization, marketing ploys and the unwillingness of their own mother to let them live their lives free?
When you think of reality TV (or at least when I do), I never consider the children. I tend to focus on the trashiness and greediness of the adults involved with the shows. They're exploiting their own personal lives, relationships, privacy and themselves for money and fame. Not to mention the poor taste they usually exhibit while they do it. This book shows me what it must be like to be a child on TV, displayed for the entire world to gawk at. Bonnie's relationships with her parents crumble. Her Mom never has any time for her after they adopt the rest of the kids, and she hasn't seen her Dad since the divorce four years before. Her sister Lexie blames her for the loss of the cameras and the fame. The only one in her family that Bonnie really has a good relationship with is her older brother, Benton. That's because Benny is of the same opinion she is - fame isn't worth the price of admission. All the family drama and the complicated relationships were compelling stuff.
Probably my main complaints would be the lack of depth to Chloe's friends, Tessa and Mer, who really seem to exist as her connection to normality. I did like the way Benton's relationship with Matt wasn't portrayed as being a big deal. They were just two boys who were in love with each other. There was bit of friction with Matt's religious parents near the end, but overall their relationship is treated as just the normalest thing ever - as it should be in books and real life, always! Patrick, the love interest for Chloe, was extremely close to Gary Stu territory. He was entirely too perfect and I could not spot a single flaw. The only thing that ever caused problems with him and Chloe was when she tried breaking up with him "for his own good." And honestly, he's loving and supportive, never gets mad at her and is willing to put off his acceptance to Columbia for a year, so he can travel around the world with her (all because she was too chicken-shit to apply to any colleges). The end is kind of loose, with Chloe and Benton patching things up with Lexie, moving out after they turn eighteen, and hiring a lawyer to sue MetaReel and tank the show the best they can. But we readers never get to see the resolution to any of these conflicts. All in all, an intriguing book that really makes you consider the people behind the reality show "characters." I'd recommend this to someone who enjoys a good character study.
VERDICT: 3.5/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**