‘Reality Check’ hinges on dream tale of reality show stardom

You’ve been practicing your autograph.

You write it with your right hand, then you try it with your left. You do it carefully, slowly, then you scribble it and that looks better. Someday, you’ll probably have to sign autographs quick, so there’s no sense in making things too neat.

That’s because you’re pretty sure you’re going to be famous one day. In the new book “Reality Check” by Kelli London, fame finally happens to a NYC teen. Too bad her dream turns out to be a nightmare.

To Charly St. James, there was no doubt that she’d be a star someday. She’d do anything to make it happen, even if it meant sneaking into a sitcom filming, pretending like she belonged there. And it worked: when she was caught on-set by a man who promised fame, he loved her persistence so much that he cast her in a new reality show.

This new life in New York was going to be a lot different than it was in Chicago, and Charly knew she had a lot to learn. The show was about rewarding people who really deserved it, which spoke to Charly’s heart. The fact that she’d be working with Annison — the beautiful star Charly had been watching on TV since forever — was just icing on the very yummy cake.

The men on the show were tasty, too: Sully, with his scruffy good looks, charmed Charly because he was a lot like her. Liam, with his smooth British accent, made her knees weak. Yes, the men on the show were hot, but Charly had a boy already: Mason was the love of her life, but they just didn’t get to see one another enough.

So there it was: Charly got her dream job where she was allowed to bring her puppy, Marlow, with her to work. Life was good — until it started getting weird.

Sully said that Annison couldn’t be trusted, which is something Charly learned quick. Liam accidentally kissed Charly, which may not have been accidental, and which made Mason jealous. In a matter of weeks, Charly went from co-host to host to assistant to off the show, and she had no idea why.

Forget the mic check. Was it time for a reality check?

Just like the first book in the “Charly’s Epic Fiascos” series, I didn’t like this novel much at first. “Reality Check” isn’t very based in reality — I mean, seriously, what teen forces her way into instant TV stardom?

That almost never happens… but what does happen is that a book kind of gets under your skin and makes you smile, which what London did here. I grew to really enjoy this story, partly because Charly’s a gutsy girl and partly because she doesn’t become a stereotypical diva. That’s a very good surprise, which turns this into a rather good book.

If you dream of fame and fortune, be careful what you ask for. And if you want a decently fun novel, “Reality Check” is a book to write down.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for teens and children weekly.

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