Summer of Love Week 10: Faking Reality by Sara Fujimura

Posted August 26, 2021 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

Each week Stephanie, Lenore and I will be featuring a Summer of Love review on our blogs.  If you missed Stephanie’s post from Monday, check it out at Once Upon a Chapter.  If you missed Lenore’s post from Tuesday, check it out at Celebrity Readers.

Happy Thursday y’all! Today is my stop for Summer of Love, and I’ve got a sweet, YA contemporary romance for you. I enjoyed this one for a multitude of reasons including the biracial MC and the behind the scenes look at a reality TV star’s life. Check out the rest of this week’s posts:

We will be back tomorrow on Celebrity Readers discussing episodes 7 and 8 of Love & Decay Season 1.


This review was written for YA Books Central and is being published here with permission.

I received this book via YA Book Central. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Summer of Love Week 10: Faking Reality by Sara FujimuraFaking Reality by Sara Fujimura
Published by Tor Teen on 2021-07-13
Length: 320 pages
Reviewing Hardcover from YA Book Central
Reading Challenges: 2021 New Release Challenge, 2021 Summer of Love, COYER 2021

Can a reality star princess transform the boy-next-door into her Cinnamon Roll Prince?

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.

Faking Reality by Sara Fujimura is a sweet, contemporary teen romance about a reality TV star, her best friend, and growing up. Living her life online and in the public eye has never been easy, and Dakota can’t say she is upset that her reign as America’s DIY princess is coming to an end. Her entire life has been dictated by her parents’ HGTV show. Their fans have watched Dakota grow up and been invested in her life before it even began, making Dakota’s real life difficult to navigate. With the camera present, it is hard to determine who are her real friends and who are faking it, even dating is not an option after the previous year’s disastrous homecoming dance. But once the cameras are gone for good, Dakota plans to let her crush know how she truly feels. 

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.

About Sara Fujimura

Author Sara Fujimura

Sara is the American half of her bicultural Japanese-American family and spends about a month each summer in Japan with her children. She started as a journalist, so it is no surprise that Sara's young adult books contain a lot of facts to go along with the fiction. Whether you want to know about Japan (TANABATA WISH), the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 (BREATHE), what it's like to be an Olympic-caliber skater (EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN'T), or how unscripted television works (FAKING REALITY), Sara takes readers on swoony journeys to unusual places. She is a creative writing teacher, a literacy advocate and is excited to support the next generation of authors. If you go to anime cons in Arizona, you may also see Sara as her alter ego, The Obento Lady.

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