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Changing Faces: Real TV, Take One

Review

Changing Faces: Real TV, Take One

Super-stressed senior Olivia O'Donnell is determined to make her last year of high school count. Olivia, the heroine of CHANGING FACES --- the first in Wendy Lawton's Real TV series --- has spent years as a slave to her studies and is sure that her spot as valedictorian is secure. With that taken care of, she can finally get around to spending her often-postponed, not-so-daily quiet time with God, as well as strengthening her shaky friendship with lifelong pal Jane. However, the first day of school delivers an announcement that completely alters the outlook of Olivia's year.

As it turns out, there is a three-way tie for the coveted valedictorian spot that she had long anticipated receiving. The students in the running will not be judged solely on their academic performance, but also on the amount they are contributing to the community. Things couldn't be worse for Olivia. Not only was her schedule already jam-packed with school, church and a dozen other commitments, but volunteer work never had been exactly her forté. Desperately wanting to end her senior year on top, Olivia takes a position as a publicity coordinator for The Shelter of His Wing, a refuge for abused women and children.

It seems like a disaster from the beginning, and it isn't just the lack of time that bothers Olivia. She quickly realizes that God definitely did not bless her with the gift of mercy, leading her to have some difficult interactions with the shelter's residents. She has every intention of quitting her position when unexpected news abruptly changes those plans. As the drama at the shelter progresses, Olivia's personal life begins to suffer. Her weekly date with best friend Jane to watch their favorite reality show "Changing Faces" is blown off one too many times, and Olivia soon finds her friend in the company of archrival Aubrey. Things begin to look up, however, when Olivia finds out that she may have a chance to be a guest on the reality show she has followed for so long. An all-expenses-paid, luxurious makeover trip to Los Angeles might be what she needs to get her life back in order --- or is it?

Both fans and naysayers of reality television will have much to enjoy in CHANGING FACES. Being quite skeptical of makeover-type shows that the book portrays, I didn't think I would have much to enjoy in a Real TV book. However, the program is just a backdrop for a much larger story that all readers can identify with. Lawton avoids the clichés and predictable plot development so often found in teen fiction, and offers young readers well-written and inspiring prose. The story has an uplifting ending, but avoids contrived plot twists and gives the story (even though it's one about an unlikely celebrity) an authentic appeal.

Readers undoubtedly will be anticipating the next installment in this wonderful series.

Reviewed by Jennifer Crosby on July 1, 2004

Changing Faces: Real TV, Take One
by Wendy Lawton

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • ISBN-10: 0802454135
  • ISBN-13: 9780802454133