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Fiction for the Fireside: How Do We Relate To Reality TV Romance?

A review of ONE TO WATCH by Kate Stayman-London

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Though thirty-year-old plus size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher is technically the titular ONE TO WATCH, I’d argue that author Kate Stayman-London is too. Her debut novel is warm, funny, and an incisive look at the complexity of being an empowered woman in the minefield of society’s gendered rules and expectations. 

The story jumpstarts when Bea lands the position of leading lady on “Main Squeeze” (the fictional universe’s Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise). As the show moves forward the narrative becomes a tapestry of perspectives, with Bea’s personal outlook woven among a variety of other people’s reactions through podcast transcripts, sub-forum interactions, emails, text exchanges, and online TV recaps and reviews. This narrative variety made for a fun and interesting reading experience, and, upon reflection, underlined the many ways we — as members of this societal minefield — perpetuate the problematic standards put upon women, especially in and through media.

Despite refusing to swim in the shallow end, ONE TO WATCH is, ultimately, a light romance and a charming dramedy, and one I certainly recommend bringing home with you this holiday season.

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Jenna Wycoff is a TV writer, avid book reader, and mom of two who has worked on series such as, AWKWARD. (MTV), DAYTIME DIVAS (VH1), and GREENLEAF (OWN). Jenna spent her adolescence growing up overseas and as a result she loves engaging with diverse storytelling traditions and life experiences. A voracious reader in spite of the busyness of parental life, Jenna regularly has four to five books in rotation and is always thrilled to help someone find their next great read.

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