FAKING REALITY by Sara Fujimura
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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Dakota knew it would be a horrible idea to tell Leo she was in love with him. So then why did she do it? And in the walk-in fridge of his family’s Japanese restaurant–could she get any more ridiculous? Fortunately, the cameras that usually follow her family around for their HGTV reality show aren’t allowed in the Matsuda’s restaurant. The last thing she needs is another public humiliation like last year’s Homecoming.
But Leo’s rejection is just the start of Dakota’s problems. The reality show is in its last season, and the producer wants to give America’s DIY Princess a televised Sweet Sixteen bash. The catch: she’ll need to audition actors to play her date. Could this be the opportunity Dakota needs to get over Leo before their summer trip to Japan? Or will it be yet another humiliating disaster?
I loved the voice and cast of this adorable YA romance. Dakota is a quarter Japanese and Fujimura incorporates Japanese culture and language seamlessly throughout the narrative. I also appreciated the “reality diva” twist: that Dakota stars in an HGTV show where she gets to renovate houses and other building projects. You don’t expect a “TV princess” to show up in steel-toed work boots, and it is awesome. The gradual build of the romance was actually less engaging for me than Dakota’s personal growth, wrestling with issues of privacy and agency and the pros/cons of being a ratings success. Highly recommend to fans of fun, hopeful, but thought-provoking YA contemporary fiction!