Tuesday, August 07, 2012
REVIEW: Reality Chick by Lauren Barnholdt
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June, 2006
Genre: Teen Chick-Lit
Description: All-hour study fests . . . all-night parties . . .
Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to watch. On uncensored cable.
Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if school isn't panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old crushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally's got bigger issues -- like how her long-distance bf can watch her loopy late-night "episode" with a certain housemate. . . .
Freshman year on film.
And like all good reality TV, it's impossible to turn off.
My Thoughts: Freshman year at college is hard. Trying to adjust to the new freedom and responsibilities of managing oneself while living on your own for the first time in your life is a big deal. Making a long distance relationship with your boyfriend of two years work now that he's in college down in Florida carries a lot of stress. Apparently, our protagonist, Ally Cavanaugh, laughs in the face of stress and auditions for and is chosen to appear on a reality TV show with four other freshmen.
Though the logic of this character's decision to do this seems vividly absent, I found it impossible to look away. As with most sordid and uncensored reality shows on the air these days, I find it difficult to stop watching. Why are we drawn to scenarios where a group of strangers are thrown together in a small, confined space and are manipulated so that their behavior and reactions are then recorded for the rest of us to view, comment and speculate on?
It's hard to not like Ally. I felt a lot of empathy for her as she struggles to adjust to college, picking a major, missing her boyfriend and developing friendships with her housemates all the while a cameraman follows her all over the house and campus recording every facial expression, emotion, conversation and act, some of which Ally would rather forget. Personally, being recorded in the bathroom is pushing it, but again, reality TV fans want it realistic and if you knew your words and actions were being recorded, how realistic would it be?
Reality Chick was a fast, enjoyable read that I recommend if you like living vicariously through others. This book was given a makeover and republished in 2010 under the new title, Watch Me.
I personally like the new cover better.
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