Faking Reality

Tor Teen/Tor/Forge/. Jul. 2021. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250204103.
Gr 7 Up–Dakota “Koty” McDonald has grown up as the DIY Princess on her family’s popular HGTV show, which is finally coming to an end. When she’s not filming, she is an ordinary girl who’s in love with her best friend, Leo. However, when the network wants to end the show with a “Sweet Sixteen Extravaganza” episode, she is asked to interview boys to play the part of the perfect dream date. What happens when she falls for her hired date, and why is Leo suddenly acting jealous? Leo is Japanese and Koty is biracial Japanese and white; there are many Japanese words and phrases throughout. Koty’s crush on Leo comes off as juvenile, even for a young YA title, making her seem younger than she is. In contrast, Leo’s actions toward Koty are concerning: Multiple times he tells her that she is suffocating him when she is merely existing, which reads as a red flag, making the romance hard to recommend. Readers may find it difficult to connect with famous Koty, whose life as a reality TV star with an on-screen Sweet Sixteen party makes her less relatable.
VERDICT A reality TV romance that falls short.

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