Review: Reality Ends Here by Alison Gaylin

June 6, 2013

Title: Reality Ends Here
Author: Alison Gaylin
Publication date: June 10th 2013
Publisher: Pocket Star

Genre: YA
Rating: 2/5 stars
Source: NetGalley 
With a major crush on an adorable pop star, annoying younger siblings, and a mom and stepdad who are too strict, Estella Blanchard is a typical teenage girl-except that her daily struggles are plotlines on the reality show
Seven Is Heaven, which relentlessly documents her life as the older half-sister of sextuplets. Estella's an Oscar-worthy actress at hiding her true feelings from the camera.

However, she can't outrun the spotlight when she receives a Christmas present from her biological father...who died ten years ago under mysterious circumstances. Blamed for this "sick prank," Estella is placed in an unorthodox support group for troubled child stars-including a twenty-three-year-old has-been, a backstabbing drama queen, and a super-cute (but very off-limits) boy bander. And, as weird as the group is, when a creepy paparazzo starts stalking her, claiming that her dad is actually alive, Estella's going to need their help to uncover the truth and stay alive.
The blurb sounds interesting, doesn't it? All girl stuff and mystery and intrigue?

Well, dont let it fool you. It's not.

The Blanchard family's story is uncannily similar to the Kardashian's story. As I was reading the book, there were several instances where I went, 'Oh wait, that sounds familiar.' Estella's father, Martin Fisher, was a criminal defense attorney who only represented people whom he believed were innocent. One Christmas eve, when Estella was 6, he died on a freeway after buying a Christmas gift. The catch is that he died on a road which was nowhere near home or on the way home either. But the mystery fizzles out since there's no evidence whatsoever. Few years later, Estella's mother remarries and gives birth to sextuplets. And so the reality show, 'Seven is Heaven' started.

What did I like? I liked the portrayal of the children, both on and off camera. When a bunch of children, all below ten, are often manipulated and coerced into behaving in a certain way for the sake of ratings, they're bound to change in many ways. One wets her bed often, and is terrified of anyone finding out, another is scared spitless of almost everything (including birds), another grows mean and snarky, and yet another struggles with her 'weight issues' being discussed on national television. She's six years old, for crying out loud! There's a vulnerability to them that just makes you want to cuddle them and promise that everything will be alright.  I felt like this gave me a glimpse into the possible real lives of reality show stars and how they cope with all the attention.

But other than that, the book left me wanting so much more than what I got. And I dont mean that as a compliment.

Estella as a person is pretty level headed, and I understood why she took the steps that she did. But she's also contradictory at times. She goes to the support group, where she meets Jake and a bunch of other kids and one adult with problems like coping and stress. I'm always surprised at how quickly kids nowadays 'fall' for guys. On the same day they meet, Estella and Jack meet each other outside at a burger house. When Estella finds out that he has a girlfriend, she feels crushed and foolish. I mean, really? You just met the guy, for God's sake. And I understand having a crush, but this was a bit more than that.

Jake, by the way, is a very sweet guy. He's nineteen, so there's some maturity there (thank God). He's also really sweet to all the kids in the book, which was so adorable! But there were times I found myself rolling my eyes at his dialogues.

"I like you," he said.
"Even though I'm a damaged child celebrity?"
"I really like you, Estella. A lot."

Oh, how eloquent.

Now see, I can see the appeal in an awkward confession where he's too in love with her to be very articulate. But this, after just a few days, and for a guy who up till than had been very confident and expressive, was too much. 

The plot is so outlandish and has so many holes that it just became plain annoying near the end. At the end of the day, it's something of a 'For the want of a nail...' story. And the older, bigger question, that gave rise to all the mystery? Unanswered. Yep. That just about killed it for me.

Bottomline: You could call it a Kardashian family fan fiction, that is just as unentertaining (those of you who enjoy the Kardashians, no offense :). It was definitely not the book for me, but it could be the one for you if you want something fluffy and dont want to think too hard about it.

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review