Title: The Actual Real Reality of Jennifer James
Author: Gillian Shields
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
“This is the diary of Jennifer James.
One Heroine: Jennifer James, burdened by brains, struggling to release her Inner Babe
One High School: London Road Comprehensive, a no-hope English school in a no-hope English town
One Prize: A scholarship to the elite St. Willibald’s College [Jennifer’s idea of Paradise] offered to the winner of a tacky reality TV show, Down The Bog
and . . .
A Thousand Complications: Like Jocasta, the crazy feminist mother; Tallulah, the blond rival from hell; Marcus, the guy with green eyes; and above all, the actual real reality that Jennifer’s chances of winning are less than Mega-Zero.”
So basically, there’s this little nobody girl whose school is put onto a reality TV show. Nobody Girl gets to be one of the students on the reality show and so cameras follow her around at school and she has the chance to win a completely paid scholarship to some rich kid boarding school. Nobody Girl struggles in the competition because she is, essentially, a nobody, but with some help she pulls through and makes it to the end of the competition. Drama, silly names, and even more teenage drama will accompany Nobody Girl as she fights for the prize.
- Overall, it’s an amusing read if you don’t think too much about it. It makes fun of reality shows and provides an afternoon’s entertainment (or longer, depending how fast you read).
- There are some interesting characters. There were only a few times when a name was mentioned and I had to think hard about who that person actually was, despite the large cast.
- It did the diary thing pretty well. You still could feel like it was a real story, but there was a lot of narrating rather than just showing what happened just because of the style.
Jeers (possible spoilers):
- Jennifer James is a bit of a Mary Sue. Her only flaw is being bad a gym and being shy and nervous. In my opinion, shyness/nervousness/clumsiness is the first thing writers go to when they realize their female characters have no flaw. The whole time I was a bit annoyed with how generic she was.
- Jennifer’s little brother is a prop. Sorry, but I don’t like it when authors add siblings just to give the main character more depth. It’s mentioned once that her little brother is just starting school, then never mentioned again. He’s basically there because she once took him to the park and that helped her interact with a boy.
- Jennifer’s parents were having serious martial problems and it’s all solved because Jennifer told her dad to buy her mother flowers. I just wasn’t satisfied by that part of the story. I wanted to know more about her dad, why he was so quiet and more about his job and how the move from Jennifer’s old school affected the family. Her mom went from being INSANE to completely normal from a bouquet of flowers and a concert even though she almost had an affair? It was just all very unrealistic.
- I didn’t like the love interest one bit. I just didn’t feel his appeal. I feel like the entire reason that Jennifer chased him was because he had green eyes. That was it. I liked the boy she rejected much more and the way that plot line resolved itself left much to be desired.
- The text talk. Oh god, the text talk. Jennifer is supposed to be this really intelligent girl who wants to get into Oxford but she sends txts dat lok lyke dis. No, worse than that, actually. It was painful.
Would I recommend it?:
Only if you could borrow it or buy it cheap. It isn’t high-quality reading, just something to pass the time that you don’t have to think about it. It wasn’t super bad, but it didn’t stand out at all. Overall, it was a novel with an interesting (though unrealistic) premise and a meh execution.