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Friday, August 6, 2010

Review: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

There are some problems that seemed too big of a deal when you’re a teenager, then laugh and shrug off about it ten years later. And then there are those you can’t ignore, not now, not ever.

Now, that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just say I’m torn. Torn between giving Perfect You a 5 for being able to capture a significant portion of an average teenaged girl’s high school life and giving it a 3 for the number of time I got frustrated with the character.

Title: Perfect You
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Pages: 284


Kate Brown's life has gone downhill fast.

Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate's invisible.

And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she's sure she's just his latest conquest.

Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen -- but only if she lets them....

Kate is made to be the girl a reader should sympathize with. The thing is, it’s hard to relate to Kate’s situation, when she herself doesn’t do anything about it. She’s whiny and moody and often times, too caught up in her own world and problems that, if she were an actual person, I would have konked her head for her self-centeredness. In short, she’s a sixteen year old.

Another thing is I can’t understand why Kate thinks so lowly of herself in the school popularity food chain. Her physical attributes were not described, and her personality wasn’t established in detail. I don’t know where her insecurity is coming from.

On the upside, Kate isn’t written as a sixteen year old who has the maturity of a twenty-five year old or childishness of a twelve year old. Her worries and complaints were valid. Her body and image concerns were understandable. And her problems with Anna, her former-best-friend-and-soon-to-be-ex-friend, and the boy she liked, Will i-like-him-but-i-think-he’s-a-jerk-but-why-do-i-keep-making-out-with-him? Miller, seemed overly dramatic but typical.

Just to highlight a few significant (or insignificant) points in the story:

  • The constant flirtatious banter between Will and Kate may seem inane to some, but I sort of enjoyed how Kate tried to appear unassuming and uncaring, when she was obviously secretly basking in sheer joy. As one of their conversations went:

    Will looked at them for a second and then turned back around again, whispering, "Kate, don't be like that. You know I only did so well because I yearn -- see, SAT word -- to follow you to college and steal your heart."

    "Uh-huh. Too bad for you I don't plan on attending clown college."

    He grinned. "Only you would ignore the incredibly sweet thing I just said."

    "Only you would describe one of your asinine comments as incredibly sweet."

    There are more similar conversations like these, but it all boiled down to a couple of things. No matter how hard Kate fought the attraction, she likes Will. And Will found a kindred soul in Kate and genuinely likes her, too.=)

  • Kate’s relationship with Anna is actually simple. The two of them just made it complicated. Kate’s obsession over the dissolution of her friendship with Anna is a bit too much, but I also know how upsetting it can be to suddenly see the friendship you’ve built from childhood disintegrate right before your eyes. In all fairness, Kate really tried to fix things and get answers. But I would have known it was a waste when Anna made Kate promise that she (Kate) will still be there when she (Anna) will need her. I don’t think Anna believe in genuine, sincere reciprocity, and for that, in my book, she’s not worth it as a friend.

  • Kate’s issue with her family appeared to be the larger focus in the story, which is good, because it made Perfect You more than just a young adult romance fiction. Kate’s situation mirrored every other average family who struggles with paying the bills, car, and mortgage and dealing with in-laws, or in this case the mother-in-law, Kate’s grandmother. Surprisingly, Grandma offered the most important lesson of all: (paraphrased)

    "Things end. People leave. And you know what? Life goes on. Besides, if bad things didn't happen, how would you be able to feel the good ones? ... ... Don’t just want to be happy, try. ... ... Darling, the world doesn't owe you anything.”

    “Wow, that so doesn't make me feel better."

    "It's not supposed to. That part is up to you."

Elizabeth Scott worked the story with a slow buildup that the ending seemed almost rushed. There’s resolution in there, but I’m sure a reader wanted more than just a narrated conclusion. I, for one, would have wanted to see how things eventually played out towards the end.

Perfect You is written as if Kate authored it herself. It’s as if she’s making a diary entry, pouring out her feelings and complete with side comments. I want to give Perfect You 3 stars, since the story felt like it could have used a finer, continuous flow and detailing, at the same time 5 stars for the raw emotions involved and how relatable the character and/or the situation is.

After much thought and to compromise, I think Elizabeth Scott’s Perfect You deserve a 4.

Rating: ★★★★☆ : FANTASTIC! - This is a really nice book. I love it! <3


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