Bonnie Baker grew up on television as one of the stars of Baker’s Dozen, a reality show about her parents’ dream to have a large family and their lives afterward. The show’s been off the air for four years and Bonnie, now Chloe, has managed to keep out of the spotlight and has had a normal life. She’s happy. Then comes the news that Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air, and Bonnie’s mom and the show’s producer don’t care that Bonnie wants nothing to do with it. She’ll either have to cope with her new life being exposed or find a way to get off the show.
I was honestly not expecting to be so blown away by this book from the description. It seemed like it would be a nice, fluffy type read. What I got instead was something that became my favorite book so far this year. It was funny and had depth with great characters. I put it down for work then dove straight back into it when I got home and kept reading until 2am when I finished it.
The characters in this book were all amazing in their own way. Chloe, who worked so hard to be under the radar at her school so no one will make the connection between Chloe and Bonnie. She was so easy to empathize with and I really just wanted to see her get everything she wanted because it was so simple. She just wanted a normal life. The show left her with major anxiety and we got to see her struggle to overcome it and discover who she is. Benton, Chloe’s brother and fellow Baker’s Dozen hater, had such a great relationship with her. These were the two who got the most focus and the bond between them was something special. Lexie, sister, appeared a little less since she attended a different school, and at times it was easy to dislike her but she definitely grew on me throughout the book. The other kids didn’t appear as much as they were all younger and didn’t play a huge role but the sibling bond was still there. Chloe’s friends Tessa and Meredith were absolutely awesome and I loved seeing such strong female friendships so present. And then there was Patrick. Every girl needs a Patrick in her life. He was so sweet and understanding and encouraging and so perfect for Chloe.
There were definitely characters to direct hate at as well. Chuck, the producer of the show, was so slimy and fake and a bully. I really wanted to see him fail. Chloe’s parents were a little harder to outright dislike since it did seem like they, in their minds, thought they were doing the right thing but so many of the children had some kind of issue that I couldn’t be on their side. They seemed blind to the real problems in their kids’ lives and the way they allowed the show to portray certain events was despicable.
The book was mainly set in the present but every once and again there were flashbacks, in the form of a past interview or a scene from the TV show. I loved how we saw that reality TV is still not completely reality, things get twisted and cut and edited to make it look however the producer wants all for ratings, the kids get labels put on them like bookworm, jock, sexy. There’s tabloids to deal with and with twitter/facebook/instagram/etc, anyone at anytime could leak details of their day very easily. The book also brings up some really good points about the children and who’s looking out for them when they’re staring in shows like this without fully understanding what it means.
From the beginning to the end, I was on Chloe’s side. The more she became aware of how she was treated and manipulated the first time the show was on, the more I wanted to see her take the whole MetaReel company down. The lighter moments, Chloe and Benny interactions, Chloe and Patrick, were a nice contrast to the darker ones, Chloe and her mother, Chloe and Chuck. The slow romance between Chloe and Patrick was especially nice, no insta-love, we got to see them work through issues.
I also love all the quotable moments in this book. It was full of them.
This is definitely a book I will be re-reading.