Book Review: The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

September 18, 2009

The Real Real

Jesse is a senior at a high school in the Hamptons where she sees lots of celebrities and other wealthy people drop in for vacation. Life for most of the locals is anything but glamorous, that is until TV network XTV decides to train its cameras on the students in Jesse’s high school. What they want is real teens, doing real things in their real lives. Everyone at the school tries out, but Jesse is sure that she won’t be among the chosen ones.

When the line-up is announced, there’s no surprise that the school’s hottest teens made the list—Nico, Jase, Rick and Melanie—but Jess is surprised to find that she’s been picked too. While none of Jesse’s friends made the list, she’s excited that the guy she has a crush on, Drew, did.

While having the cameras film her every move is kind of a pain, it’s also kind of glamorous and at first everything goes well. But when real teens doing real things in real life proves to be really boring, the producers at XTV decide to shake things up by orchestrating real drama. The ensuing events may make for interesting television, but the effect they have on Jesse and the other stars of the show are anything but expected.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the bestselling authors of The Nanny Diaries, have written a book that should resonate with reality TV viewers, and it feels as though we really are behind the scenes of a reality TV show. The teens in The Real Real aren’t perfect, in fact it can be frustrating to watch as some of them make some pretty big mistakes. But then you realize just how much the adults in the equation fail them and contribute to the mistakes in so many ways. Recommended for mother-daughter book clubs with girls 15 and up.