Dakota McDonald swore after “The Great Homecoming Disaster” that she’d never allow her romantic life to be a plot line in her parents’ HGTV show again. But when the restaurant run by the family of her best friend (and secret crush), Leo, is on the line, Dakota might end up eating her own words.
Leo Matsuda dreams of escaping the suffocating demands of working in his family’s restaurant, but the closer he gets to his goal―thanks to the help of his best friend (and secret crush) Dakota―the more reasons there are for him to stay.
Sara Fujimura's Faking Reality is another charming multicultural romance by the award-winning author of Every Reason We Shouldn’t, a National Public Radio Best YA Book of the Year.
What I Loved:
I really liked Dakota. While the book's blurb promises romance, I found myself more drawn to Dakota's life as a TV star. How she navigates the pressures surrounding the show, how she balances school and work, and even how she makes time for her best friend were all fascinating to me. I really empathized with her struggles to live basically two lives: her TV DIY perfect daughter and the quirky high school junior. I also enjoyed seeing that she did enjoy what she did on the show and how good she is at it. It may have inspired a few DIY projects around my own house.
Leo is lovely. He is quiet, camera-shy, and so steadfast. I immediately understood Dakota's attraction to him. His loyalty to his family's restaurant and his easy friendship with Dakota endeared him to me. His own struggles with the restaurant's money problems and his need to raise funds to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with Dakota to Japan made me ache for him.
What Left Me Wanting More:
As I've already mentioned, the romance is on the light side. The blurb makes it sounds like the romance will be the main focus of the plot, and while yes, Dakota does pine for Leo, it really focuses more on her work on the show. We also get glimpses of her friendship, but the romance is about nonexistent.
While I appreciated that both Dakota and Leo are biracial, this was really in the background and not a prominent theme in the book, aside from their desire to attend the school's trip to Japan.
There is also some LGBTQ+ representation, but again it is in the background and not a feature of the story.
Final Thought: With a dash of romance and a sprinkling of Japanese American culture, Faking Reality is a sweet contemporary featuring the importance of friendship, how to cope with change, and the butterflies of first love.