What's the worst thing you've ever done?
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 counselors 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.
Cracked Up to Be is the best contemporary book I've ever read. Truly. In fact, this book makes me very, very ashamed and regretful that I don't read more contemporary books.* Cracked Up to Be is just that good. If anything is going to get me to read contemporary, this is it.
Parker is perhaps one of the most memorable, wonderful narrators I've ever encountered. Readers are smacked over the head by her unforgettable voice, thoughts, and actions. Branded "manipulative" by the counselors and administrators who try to help her, Parker is witty, sarcastic, and cynical. She puts on a tough front and definitely tries her best to shock people. And I gotta admit, I can't help but admire her nerve. Parker makes the most biting and snarky comments, but what can I say? I love snark in a main character.
But I'm pretty sure I'm botching this explanation. So let's allow the quotes to speak for themselves:
pg 4:See? Amazing. Parker is one of my all-time favorite narrators. It's just that irrepressible voice!
"Grey looks like abird, a dead-eyed sparrow, and if I had her job, I'd want to kill myself. It's not like well-adjusted people ever come into the guidance office. You get either the crazy underachievers or the crazy overachievers and both come with their own depressing set of problems. I don't know. I'd just want to kill myself if I was her, that's all."
"Chris and Becky are still furious with me. They won't look at or speak to me, and I won't lie, I feel pretty accomplished about it. Somebody give me a gold star."
Before this story starts, Parker was an obsessive perfectionist. Now, her popular ex-boyfriend Chris, her arch-enemy Becky, her parents, and her teachers are all bewildered by her self-destructive behavior. They're convinced she needs saving. But Parker wants nothing but to alienate herself further, and she'll go to any length to do so--whether it's being rude to the nice new kid who likes her, manipulating the people closest to her, or convincing her parents to buy a dog that's supposed to replace her. Readers will get hints, but not the full reason behind her behavior until the end; there is a flashback interweaved into the story, related bit by bit, that will ultimately explain why Parker is acting the way she does.
The dialogue is also one of my favorite parts of this book--it's just so realistic and rings true to Parker and the other people she interacts with. Courtney Summers is a genius when it comes to dialogue. Everything is just so sharp and sparse, but ultimately perfect.
All in all, this book was just flat-out, squeal-worthy fantastic. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I was drawn into Parker's story. I had to know what had caused this downward spiral in her life. I had to know what Parker would say or do next, and trust me, she's pretty unpredictable. Actually, Cracked Up to Be is one of the best written books I've ever read --delightfully straightforward, riveting prose abounds, with equally amazing dialogue and characterization. Summers perfectly renders one girl's journey as she struggles to finally face what she's done and come to terms with it. Cracked Up to Be is totally and utterly unapologetic in it's stark portrayal of Parker's descent into darkness, it's grittiness, and it's jump-off-the-page wit. But most of all, this book is brilliant and powerful in both writing and message.
I guarantee this will be one of the best books you've ever read. If not the best.
READ THIS NOW!!!
I give it a 9.5/10
Special thanks to Emilia and Jessica for recommending me this awesome book :)
*I swear I'm reforming myself. I pinky promise. I've been reading lots of contemporary lately!