Cara Hawn’s life fell apart after her father cheated on her mother and got remarried to a woman Cara can’t stand. When Cara accidentally posts a rant about her father online, it goes viral—and catches the attention of the TV producers behind a new reality dating show for single parent families.
The next thing Cara and her mother know, they’ve been cast as leads on the show and are whisked away to sunny Key West where they’re asked to narrow a field of suitors and their kids down to one winning pair. All of this is outside of Cara’s comfort zone, from the meddling producers to the camera-hungry contestants, especially as Cara and her mother begin to clash on which suitors are worth keeping around. And then comes Connor.
As the son of a contestant, Connor is decidedly off-limits. Except that he doesn’t fit in with the cutthroat atmosphere in all the same ways as Cara, and she can’t get him out of her head. Now Cara must juggle her growing feelings while dodging the cameras and helping her mom pick a bachelor they both love, or else risk fracturing their family even more for the sake of ratings. Maybe there’s a reason most people don’t date on TV.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I am always in the mood for a reality TV inspired read, so it’s no surprise that I was really excited to read Bethany Mangle’s All the Right Reasons. This YA contemporary follows seventeen year old Cara, whose life fell apart when her parents & gym co-owners in Ohio divorced after her dad cheated on her mom. While recording a digital video journal talking about her frustration with her parents, Cara accidentally publishes it for everyone to see, attracting a reality TV show for single parent family. After a whirlwind audition, Cara and her mom find themselves in Key West and stars of the reality show, Second Chance Romance, where Cara’s mom will choose a new husband and stepchild for their family. Cara and her mom are basically best friends, but the two go head-to-head over Cara’s mom’s love interest.
All the Right Reasons was a fun & light-hearted take on the reality TV storyline. There have been more & more The Bachelor inspired books over the past few years (I list some of my recs at the end of this review), but this was the first YA book I’ve read with the inspired synopsis, and the family angle was very unique. I really enjoyed Cara and her mom’s relationship, especially as its put to the test on the show. There is a slight Gilmore Girls feel to their relationship, as Cara and her mom have been a duo ever since Cara’s parents separated. There’s ALL the drama expected from a Bachelor like show, from choosing who gets eliminated to on-set sabotage and so much more. It’s overall such a fun read, and I loved again diving into the on-set events and behind-the-scenes action (I do admit that I predicted Cara’s mom’s final choice from the get-go). There was also representation surrounding race (Cara identifies as Korean & white), and there’s also disability representation.
My biggest critique of All the Right Reasons is that some of the character & relationship development felt unexplored or unexplained, especially surrounding Cara’s relationship with her dad and Connor. First, I wish we honestly would’ve gotten more background on Cara’s relationship with her father. There are a handful of scenes with them together, and there are certain points in the story where it feels like Cara is going to dive into her feelings (like when she sees a bunch of the dads bonding with their kids on the show) or even when she confronts her father late in the book, but we never get that full execution. It seems like the reader is just to accept that her dad is a jerk and move on. While I liked Connor as a character, I never really saw the chemistry & relationship development between Connor and Cara. I kind’ve wish it was left as a friendship, again just because what relationship development we did get was super rushed.
Overall, if you love reading reality TV inspired books or books with mother-daughter relationships as the focus, I recommend reading All the Right Reasons!
If you enjoy All the Right Reasons or like books with a reality TV inspired premise, I recommend picking up One to Watch by Kate Stacey-London, If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy, or The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun . If you’re looking for a YA meets reality TV pick, try Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke.
All the Right Reasons comes out on February 15, 2022.
This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is All the Right Reasons on your TBR? Have you read Bethany Mangle’s Prepped? What reality TV inspired books have you read? Share in the comments!