Title: Faking Reality
Author: Sara Fujimura
Pub. Date: July 13, 2021
Pub: Tor Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Some Kind of Wonderful meets Kara McDowell’s Just for Clicks with diverse characters, perfect for readers looking for feel-good YA romance and those who like “clean teen” reads
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 his small town Arizona life and 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.
This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I blew through this book.
I read 60% of it in one night, staying up far too late for a work night. I paid the price the next day, but it was worth it. Then I spent all day really looking forward to getting home so I could finish it.
Overall, this was a cute YA contemporary read that sucks you in and keeps you wanting more. I loved Dakota – so much. She was fun and relatable and just a really great character. She cares so deeply for those she claims as family. Her personality is great, and I loved her friendship with Leo.
I also loved Leo. But, and yes, there’s a but – I spent most of this book annoyed as hell at him. When feelings come to light, the way he reacts is…
Let’s just say I think he handled it wrong. And then everything that happens after that – he definitely handled it wrong. I didn’t get the sense that he was doing anything on purpose, but he was still a pretty shitty friend for a while.
I was all on board for a friends to lovers (or something more) story, and there were a lot of twists, turns and stops along the way. I just wanted to reach into the book and hug Dakota, because she got the raw end of that deal for a while. And while I hurt for her, I did really enjoy the personal growth that came out of it.
I just really liked her character. Her whole life has been in the public eye and I think she handles it pretty well. It’s not always smooth sailing and easy and it does put a target on her back, but she’s so damn strong, resilient and fucking brilliant.
Outside of Dakota and Leo – the whole cast of characters is great, honestly. Between Nevaeh, Dakota’s parents, Leo’s family, Stephanie and Alex – everyone is so great. The only two that can suck it, are Phil and whatever that conceited loser actor boy’s name is. Phil was just a jerk. The other guy, while wholly unlikable, he was kind of good for some comedic relief honestly. But everyone else was fantastic and you end up loving all of them.
Nevaeh’s out there style and fierce loyalty, Dakota’s parents who are supportive and a lot of fun, Leo’s family who is a big bunch of loving chaos and delicious food, Stephanie who is a badass and always in Dakota’s corner, and precious Alex who was exactly what Dakota needed.
I went into this book expecting to enjoy it – so it met my expectations. I inhaled it in two nights, didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to know how it all ended. Other than Leo’s obstinance and terrible life choices for most of the book, he’s really great. When he’s with Dakota, their chemistry is adorable. If you’re looking for a quick, light and fun YA contemporary read, then you should probably check this one out!