Saturday, 4 February 2012

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

The best thing about this book is that it's written in poetry. It's nothing like huge Shakespeare sonnets,  but even nonbibliophiles will appreciate how the author artistically arranges her phrases. What I love is that the first page of a new viewpoint (this book has four characters and the perspectives switch) has a hidden message running down the single words at the side. It's hard to explain without seeing the book, but when you read it you'll know what I mean. This book is so beautifully written, I ended up reading bits over again just to soak in the meaning. It addresses a plethora of issues: anorexia, modeling, homosexuality, alcohol addiction, cheating, suicide, drug abuse, high expectations. BUT- before you freak out- the book doesn't feel like it's about these issues with some characters thrown in, it feels like the story of four teenagers' lives and their problems. This book is more, ah, optimistic than a few other teenage problem books I've read. It talks a lot about outer beauty vs. inner beauty, love, and finding a place in the world. Which all sounds very cliche, I know, but trust me, this is definitely worth a read.

A quick plot summary: Cara's brother (Conner, who is featured in the book Impulse) has recently attempted suicide, throwing doubts into her mind about her parents. Her mother pushes her to be an overachiever and to be 'perfect' (hence the title of the book) by any means, without really caring how Cara feels. Cara's boyfriend, Sean, takes steroids to get a sports scholarship to Stanford, where he knows Cara is going. His life revolves around her and he wants to marry her someday, and he goes of the deep end majorly when things don't work out the way he wanted them to. Kendra is missing love in her life since Conner broke up with her. She desperately wants to become a model and will do whatever it takes to reach her dreams- plastic surgery, not eating, taking pills. Andre is a dancer whose parents also put pressure on him to go to a good university and go a more conventional route. He falls in love with Jenna, Kendra's sister. Jenna is, quite simply, a train wreck. She's not anorexic, but she's always drunk and flirts to get what she wants (attention and alcohol). The changing viewpoint is never confusing, as it is in many books; it just builds the book in a very three-dimensional (or four-dimensional:) way.

If you loved this book, you'll like:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
Life is Funny by E.R. Frank
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Skud by Dennis Foon
Ms. Zephyr's Notebook by KC Dyer

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