Friday, April 25, 2014

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Ashleigh did something stupid. Her boyfriend, Kaleb, is headed off to college soon, but instead of being with her at the big end of the summer party he is with his baseball buddies. It's happened a lot lately and Ashleigh just wants to get his attention, so her friends talk her into texting him a nude photo of herself. He's the only one who will ever see it, right?

Several months later we find Ashleigh spending time after school doing community service for her 'crime' (did I mention she was underage?). She must research the topic of her indiscretion and write a pamphlet that will be used to dissuade others from doing the same thing she did.

Her life is kind of mess. Her best friend isn't speaking to her. Her mom is disappointed. Her dad is furious (he's the superintendent and now has parents calling for his resignation over the texting scandal). And the kids who are not straight out bullying Ashleigh are talking about her and looking at the picture.

One mistake and Ashleigh's life has totally changed. Is it fair, probably not. Is it a lesson for others, yes.

For more info, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Toxic parents. If you've read enough teen books (particularly realistic fiction), then you know the type. They do not support their children emotionally and are often only concerned about themselves. Welcome to Choe's living hell.

Chloe grew up on a reality show as Bonnie, one of 13 children on Baker's Dozen (Baker being the family's last name). Chloe is the only biological child born from her mother. Her older brother and sister are twins from a surrogate. The other children were adopted with the help of the production company, MetaReel, to achieve the magic number.

Chloe is now 17 and trying to live a normal teen life. After the show was cancelled and her parents divorced, Chloe's family moved across country so they could start fresh. She changed her name and hair color in hopes that no one will recognize her. For the past few years, she has had real friends that have no idea she is Bonnie, the girl who tried to commit suicide on national television. Yes, it was that bad for her.

Chloe and her brother Benton are surprised to come home one afternoon and find the MetaReel crew on their lawn. Chloe was promised that she would never have to do the show again . Her parents say they need the money to support the children and send her and all her siblings to college. Chloe doesn't care what the reason is; her life is about to change for the worst.

From the moment the cameras return, Chloe is in agony. The only reprieve she gets is her new boyfriend.but even that is not easy because she doesn't want him and her friends to get pulled into the show and the tabloid headlines. Dodging paparazzi, having every moment captured on camera, being edited to appear differently than you are and having your mother talk about you to the nation is too much for Chloe, but no adult will listen to her.

Most of the adults in Chloe's life are horrible. Chloe is blamed for the show's original demise and her parent's divorce. She is threatened by the show's producer. She is called names and treated like a psychopath. No one can see that being on television caused many of her issues, not the other way around. Her mother is particularly twisted in her obsession with the show (and her new book). She is totally blind how the show has negatively affected her own daughter. It is sometimes excruciating to endure (and I'm just talking about me, the reader).

This is the third book I have read recently that involves reality television. I suspect it is not the last. I have always been concerned about the children of reality TV. Adults can make their own decisions and choose to be on shows, but children need adult consent. Those adults need to think about the long term effects on children.

For more info, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.