Reality Ends Here Review
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Being a teenager isn’t easy for anyone—navigating the usual ups and downs of life while dealing with things like homework and hormones. It’s even worse when every single one of the ups and downs of your troubled teen life are documented on film and presented to millions of eager viewers each week. But that’s life for sixteen-year-old Estella Blanchard in author Alison Gaylin’s young adult e-book, Reality Ends Here.

The story follows Estella as she attempts to navigate her awkward teen years as one of the stars of Seven Is Heaven, an intrusive reality show documenting her family’s lives. While her fame-hungry mom and stepdad love the spotlight—and her younger half-siblings, the sextuplets, have spent their lives in front of the cameras—Estella wants nothing more than to live a normal life.

Then, on Christmas morning, Estella receives a strange present with a card suggesting that it came from her biological dad, who died in a car accident 10 years ago. And leaked footage of the gift creates an Internet frenzy that sets Estella’s already crazy life spiraling completely out of control.

Reality Ends Here is a young adult mystery with a pop culture twist. The bulk of the story centers on Estella’s quest for answers about her father—particularly, whether or not he could still be alive. And in her search for information, she gets help from some new friends while following clues provided by a mysterious source. It’s a relatively interesting story—with plenty of intrigue—but it might have been just another run-of-the-mill mystery if it hadn’t been for the reality TV set-up.

The Hollywood backdrop adds some excitement to the adventure, offering a not-so-subtle reminder that reality TV is anything but real. Estella’s life is a mess of staged outings, fake relationships, and publicity appearances. She has snarky bloggers commenting on her every move. And in order to find the answers she needs, she has to evade not just her parents but also watchful producers and burly bodyguards. Wherever she goes, people know who she is—for better or for worse. Oh, yes…and those friends and mysterious sources? They’re actually a washed-up child star, a cute boy bander, and a shady paparazzo.

Really, the parts involving the show, Estella’s camera-ready family, and her famous friends are much more interesting than the search for her father. They’re dishy and fun—like something right out of the pages of your favorite gossip mag. The mystery, on the other hand, feels more far-fetched and a little overdone—and it all builds to a rather abrupt conclusion.

While the mystery aspects of the story aren’t flawless, though, Estella’s adventures through pop culture make Reality Ends Here a clever and often captivating read. With its touches of romance and family drama, it makes a great poolside read for teens.

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