Apr 26, 2012

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins review

Perfect coverEveryone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there. Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood. Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect? A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.

From Goodreads

This is a companion novel to Impulse & while not necessary to read that one first, it might help some of the relationships presented here make more sense. Just food for thought. :)

These characters overlap all over the place. Cara is the twin sister of Conner (the gunshot suicide attemptee in Impulse) who has her own issues with her perfection-demanding parents & a desperately needy boyfriend. None of that matters to her though when she realizes that what she really needs is to accept herself & forget everyone else who has tried to mold her into their ideal.

Kendra is the girlfriend that Conner dumped & made look like a fool because he was getting it from every woman he could find. She's got it stuck in her head that had she been a perfect enough model that he wouldn't have strayed, so she's taking serious risks in multiple ways to ensure her "future happiness".

Sean is the desperately needy boyfriend of Cara who has their whole future planned out together. He's even basing his college plans on hers & trying to ensure their success by juicing himself into oblivion. Too bad it costs him way more than he bargained for.

Finally we come to Andre who is the son of Kendra's plastic surgeon & the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Kendra's substance-abusing younger sister. He's hiding what he truly desires to do because of what his parents expect of him.

All of this leads to a lot of confusion on the reader's part. As a companion novel I was hoping to see more of the original cast members than in just the final few "chapters" of the book. Worse though was the fact that I felt like I needed a graph to keep up with who was with whom & which person was related to someone else. Needless to say for as little action as seemed to take place, this book had a lot going on.

Enough of the negative though. Ellen Hopkins' poetry has yet to cease amazing me. Her word choice & placement allows the reader to really empathize with the characters in a whole new way. While there was less of an official "poetry fell" to the work this time, the essence was still there. My favorite part of her writing definitely has to be the "hidden" messages in her chapter introductory poems. I always wanted to read those first to see what the character was really trying to say.

The story could be hard to follow at times, but the ending made it worth it. Nothing was tied up in a pretty bow and I think that was the point. None of the issues presented in this book are easily solved & she doesn't sugar-coat that fact. Her books are always a nice dose of reality. There are hard things in this world that everyone is struggling with & teenagers are no exception. If you're a fan, read on. If you haven't enjoyed her work before I strongly suggest starting with Burned or Identical first. I think those are my favorite books so far of those she has written.

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