Sunday, June 14, 2009

All That It's Cracked Up To Be

A Review for Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
***This is a review long overdue, but for anyone who hasn't gotten a chance to pick this up yet - you need to!***

This edgy YA debut novel was a wonderful surprise - a dark, heart wrenching read that brought me to tears a few times. Not since Speak (by Laurie Halse Anderson) have I been so affected by such a self-tortured teenage heroine. Without giving anything away, here’s a brief synopsis:

Parker Fadley was perfect. She was the valedictorian, the captain of the cheerleading team, and the most popular girl in school. She was dating the cutest guy in school, the captain of the football team. But something happened, and now Parker has thrown that all away. She dumped her boyfriend, quit cheerleading, abandoned her friends and started cutting school.

And no one knows why.

Her counselors, parents, and friends are all trying to help, but all Parker really wants is for them to leave her alone. And Parker’s attempts at shutting everyone out, somehow seem to keep attracting people to her – particularly the new kid in school, Jake. Worse, she finds herself beginning to fall for him.

The plot moves quickly through the second half of senior year during Parker’s quest to graduate while also fading into the background of those unnoticed. Interspersed are flashbacks to the night when everything changed, and while some aspects of the night are easy to guess, the event, the catalyst behind Parker’s dramatic change will surprise you.

Parker is possibly my favorite teenage narrator ever. She’s bitingly sarcastic, witty, and pessimistic. At times, she’s downright mean, but there’s something charming about her intelligence and honesty that you just want to be friends with her. And underneath it all, the perfectionism and the tragedy, which have driven her to crack and thrown her spiraling into depression are so well implied through description and details spaced out throughout the novel to keep you turning the page and guessing what’s at the source of her turn around.

The minor characters also all have their own quirks and personalities separate from Parker, and Summers gives new life to the stereotypical high school characters (football captain, cheerleading captain, new guy).

After I finished the last page of this book and closed the cover, Parker and the other characters stayed with me for the next few days, prompting me to go back and look through the book again and turn to friends to discuss what had happened. I even spent a restless night lying in bed thinking about them. A sure sign of a good book - a definite Must-Read.

The author's next book, Some Girls Are, is scheduled to be released from St. Martin's Press Winter of 2010. To visit Courtney Summers' website or blog, click here.


robin_titan said...

I SERIOUSLY need to read this book.

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