The Compulsive Reader: Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

This companion novel to Impulse tells the story of four teenagers and their unceasing efforts to be perfect. Connor's twin Cara begins the book with her perspective of the unhappy home she and her brother grew up in, but she deals with the pressure exerted by her parents differently than her brother. Connor's ex-girlfriend Kendra is still reeling from his sudden absence in her life, and clings to the idea that perfection is size 0, obtained by whatever means possible. Like his girlfriend Cara, Sean is driven to work for a perfect life, and that means being the best on the baseball team and getting into Stanford to be with Cara…even if that's not what Cara wants anymore. Andre thinks he's found all that he wants in dating Kendra's younger sister, but he has a secret talent that can’t be ignored so easily.

Set over the course of a few tumultuous months, Perfect is a powerful, realistic book about the complexities of growing up in a culture that demands more and more out of its teens. All of the characters are cleverly intertwined with each other and many of the events of Impulse. Cara is a sympathetic character—she really struggles with her identity and how to deal with the added issue of Connor's suicide attempt, which her parents insist must remain secret. Her boyfriend Sean is a very, very confused character, and his storyline is a testament to how your choices can greatly impact your life and send you into a downward spiral. Kendra and her sister are self-destructive, though in different ways, in reaction their parents' divorce and the secrets surrounding the event. Both girls think they are strong and on the right path, but the real tragedy is that neither has someone in their lives that can advocate for them and support them in healing...until it's too late. Andre was probably the most likable character. He's easygoing, smart, and talented, but he isn't at a good point in his life and makes some bad decisions while dating Kendra's sister. Hopkins has again pulled off an amazing, affecting book with some pretty attention-grabbing insight into the lives of a community of teens, rather than just a few random people from different backgrounds brought together by a common problem, like in Impulse or Tricks. All of the issues she brings up are extremely relevant to our culture now, yet Perfect doesn't come off as an "issue" book. It's a tough, heartbreaking, exhilarating look at characters that are real, with real consequences and real conclusions. The powerful ending isn't quite as unsettling as the conclusion of Impulse, but it is memorable and ties the two books together nicely.

Cover Comments: I love this cover! The colors and the font of the text are beautiful, but I love how the color is bleeding...not exactly perfect.

This book is out now!

ARC picked up at Simon and Schuster event.


Ellen Hopkins said...

Thanks much for the thoughtful review. Appreciate it!

Liss Martz said...

I Love Ellen Hopkins's books!! I can't wait to read this one. Love your review!!