review: cracked up to be

Book Description:

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.

My Opinion:

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:
"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."

pg 77:
"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."
See? Amazing. Parker is one of my all-time favorite narrators. It's just that irrepressible voice!

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.


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!


Allison said...

I am SO excited to read this book! I just need to find it somewhere...

Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Wow, glad you found it so amazing. My friend recently read this book and told me to stay clear of it, saying it was downright depressing. But you've piqued my interest! I love snarky heroines too!

Emilia Plater said...

Okay, twiftie, I interviewed Courtney MONTHS ago and you did not read it when I told you how awesome it was then?!?! ... Not too put you on a guilt trip or anything. At least you've read it now. :D

Emilia Plater said...

Oh, might as well post the link to that interview if anyone's interested haha - http://teenswritingforteens.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/author-interview-courtney-summers/

in which a girl reads said...

@ Emilia: *hangs head in shame*

I don't think I knew about the TWFT blog back then. I didn't really start getting into AW until late August. *finishes making excuses*

AND THAT IS A AMAZING INTERVIEW. Everyone go check it out :) Way better than my book review, lol.

And thanks so much for recommending it to me. I am forever in book-recommendation debt. Unless you've gotten your copy of The Book Thief yet? (bestboookever :))

@Allison: Yay! And thanks :)

@Anna: I didn't think it was depressing. Some sad parts, but the snark made it far from depressing. So definitely check it out!

Vee said...

I've really wanted to read this for ages now, but I can't find it at any bookstores. Sigh, living in Australia where YA takes forever and ever to finally hit the shelves.

Maybe I'll order it off Amazon :)

brizmus said...

You have be RIDICULOUSLY excited about this book now. I'd never even heard of it, and now it's moved to number 1 on my amazon wish list. Even though someone apparently called it depressing. With your great review, I'm trusting your call. :-)

in which a girl reads said...

@ink: Yes, order it off Amazon! Seriously, this book is worth buying ASAP (says stingiest-person-on-earth)

@brizmus: Yay! This book definitely won't disappoint. It's that amazing :)

Jessica said...

Great review! I agree - Courtney Summers IS a genius when it comes to dialogue. I can't believe this is her first novel. I stayed up until 3am becase I couldn't sleep until I'd read every last word. :)

Unknown said...

Wow...this didn't really intrigue me, but I'm glad you put in some quotes of passages. That really makes me think this is going to be a good book!

Annie McElfresh said...

I loved this book too!!! :)

in which a girl reads said...

@ Jessica: Loved your review! And I couldn't put this book down either :)
@ Beth: I totally understand what you mean--I would've never picked Cracked Up to Be off a shelf if I just read the back blurb, or if it hadn't been recommended to me. But after I read the first few pages on Amazon, I was hooked. So I rushed out to buy it!
@ Paranormalchick: Yay! :D

ninefly said...

I pass by a lot of books from the cover alone, and the blurb doesn't help this book either
that's why reviews like these are so much more helpful, I almost feel like reading this now XD;
I have to say I'm not really a fan of high school drama novels...because they make me feel old OTZ
but I may give this book a try if I enjoy Some Girls Are =)

Karla Calalang said...

I really want to read this book!!!

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

Your review makes this book likeable.

Post a Comment