Cracked Up to Be
by Courtney Summers
I've read some of Courtney's other books and enjoyed them, but for some reason I left this one sitting on my shelf for ages gathering dust. Now that I've finally read it, I'm mentally kicking myself for not reading it sooner because not only is it my favourite of her books so far, but it's now also one of my time favourite books in general.Summary: When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
I picked it up on a whim and I sat down intending to only read one chapter, next thing I know it was nearly 5am and I'd accidentally read the whole thing from cover to cover. After only the first few pages I was getting those I-can-tell-this-is-the-beginning-of-a-beautiful-friendship type feelings and I knew without a doubt that it'd be a 5 star read after just the first few chapters.
Courtney Summers writes some of the best contemporary YA out there. Her stories are gritty and raw and real, and she writes manages to write subject matter that other authors have tackled before in a way that feels fresh and original.
But enough author fangirling and onto specific stuff about this book...
Parker was a really odd character, because right from the start I really liked her. The reason that's odd is she's not exactly a nice person -- she says and does horrible things way too often. And yet I liked her anyway. Because she was interesting and flawed, and she wasn't all bad and she actually had me laughing quite a few times while reading the book too.
I didn't need for her to be likeable to love the book, it was enough that she was complex and never bored me, but the fact that I did like her made it easy to understand why the other characters would too in spite of how she treats them. What I'm trying to say is that it impressed me that Courtney Summers managed to write a character that it would be so easy to hate and yet I found it impossible not to like and care about her (I'm not sure if I'm in the minority there -- I've definitely seen reviews of people who hated her character).
And the other characters... I loved them too. Especially Chris, and Jake, and Bailey (yes, a dog was a favourite character). And I lovelovelove that she had parents that were both alive and actually present, which doesn't happen nearly as often as it should in YA.
Anyway, that's all I can say without spoilers. The book was fantastic and it gets 5 out of 5 stars.