Reality Check by Jen Calonita
Sixteen-year-olds Charlie, Keiran, Brooke, and Hallie live on the quiet and quaint North Fork of Long Island. It may not be glamorous, but it is real—and that’s exactly why they get signed to star on their very own reality TV show.
But cameras and interfering producers surreptitiously scripting their lives start to affect their relationships. Brooke seems to want all the screen time. Keiran is written off the show—and consequently the group’s friendship—when she doesn’t rate well.
When Charlie realizes what is going on, she figures out the perfect way to give the studio and her home audience a much-needed reality check. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Charlie (Charlotte), Hallie, Keiran, and Brooke are four best friends living in a Long Island coast town. They are normal girls, with normal lives - "townies." Out of the blue, a television producer approaches Charlie and wants to fashion a reality show around the lives of her and her friends. Surely viewers will love watching the day-to-day activities of regular girls. Charlie, the group ringleader, will be the show's star. Charlie is somewhat cautious but the idea of $10,000 per episode, cool parties, and fame soon eclipse her concerns. Surprise, surprise...reality TV is far from fun and games. Normal life is boring. Conflict is what creates ratings. And conflict quickly arises when Brooke - fame-hungry and desperate to escape from being a farmer's daughter - tries to eclipse all the screen-time, without care for her friends. Keiran is deemed too boring. And Charlie's new boyfriend doesn't want to be on TV. Will a reality TV show about the lives of four friends kill the friendship?
I love Jen Calonita's Secrets Of My Hollywood Life series. Reality Check is a good book...better than Sleepaway Girls...but still not as good as SOMHL. Charlie is a great character - nice, funny, charismatic, Type-A, confident but not overly so - the type of friend we all want. Brooke is obsessed with money and status, ambitious, and cut-throat; Charlie spends a lot of time in the narration trying to justify why they're friends. I never got a feeling for Hallie and Keiran's personalities. Hallie is beautiful and boy-crazy and Keiran has to baby-sit a lot, but other than that, they were blank pages. Zac is a perfect love interest: cute, gentle, and sweet...the boy ever mother wants her daughter to date.
The plot is basically as you'd expect it to be. I thought the ending came way too quick. It felt like the book was moving steadily toward a climax and then...uh oh, this book needs to end in 50 pages...let's finish this as fast as possible. The book is peppered with references to brand-name clothing, reality TV, and current celebrities. I always love the fashion in Jen's books; it makes me want to go shopping. The working of reality TV is fascinating; I would love to know whether the book accurately portrays the good and bad of these shows. The celebrity name-dropping is fun, but it really dates the books. I get a kick out of it now, but someone reading the book in five or ten years won't care about these people. Reality Check is a fun, light read. It won't change your life or even be overly memorable, but it's a pleasant way to spend a day or two reading.
Rating: 3.5 / 5