I've been a fan of Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus since The Nanny Diaries was published, so I was thrilled to learn they were taking on the Young Adult Fiction world with The Real Real (available in paperback December 22/HarperCollins)!
Jesse O'Rourke is selected to be one of the stars of "The Real Hampton Beach," a reality show that promises to offer viewers a glimpse into "the lives of real New York high school seniors dealing with the real world and real issues." Becoming a reality television star isn't exactly something she wants to do, but the $40,000 tuition check isn't something she can turn down. Especially when she's got her mind set on Georgetown.
Soon she finds herself pretending her co-stars, who happen to be five of the most popular kids from her school, are her best friends. Worse, XTV is now in control of her life, setting up situations and manipulating people for ratings. Jesse is hanging out with people she'd never hang out with in places she ordinarily wouldn't spend her time.
But filming the show is only the beginning of the craziness. Once the show airs, things spiral out of control. Some people love Jesse, creating fansites and gushing about her on message boards. Other people hate her, screaming nasty things at her as they drive by her house and leaving nasty messages on her voicemail.
The only consolation is that Drew--the boy she's crushing on--is also in the cast, but the producers even find a way to mess that up by creating tabloid-like headlines about Jesse's private life.
All the fame and designer clothes in the world cannot make up for losing privacy and control over her life, missing her best friend Caitlyn, and dealing with her shocked and confused parents. It's not long before Jesse decides to take matters into her own hands, get her life back on track, and reconnect with the people who really matter.
I found this book to be more entertaining than any of the "reality" shows that are on television now. The Real Real offered an interesting perspective on the behind-the-scenes antics of television networks and producers while dishing up juicy details about product placement, secondhand designer clothes, and filming locations.
I hope a sequel is in the works!