Perfect

( 316 )

Overview

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To ...

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Overview

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
"Hopkins addresses teens’ struggle with unrealistic expectations in gut-wrenching free verse."
Publishers Weekly
Hopkins sticks to the signature style that has made her books bestsellers, blending verse poetry with controversial topics. In her eighth novel, four teenage protagonists alternately narrate their struggles with perfection. Sean and Kendra's struggles are physical—he's a baseball player who turns to steroids, and she's an aspiring model who develops a severe eating disorder ("Real control is/ not putting in more than you can work off.... Shaving off every caloric unit you can/ without passing out"). Cara and Andre's issues are more about identity (Cara is an all-American girl realizing she is a lesbian, while Andre is under parental pressure to pursue a lucrative, ambitious career path and is afraid to admit his passion for dance). This is a sequel, of sorts, as Cara's twin, Conner, a protagonist in Hopkins's suicide-themed book, Impulse, makes an appearance. There is an overabundance of plot points, as readers learn about Sean's dead parents, Kendra's racist father, a vicious attack on Kendra's sister, and more. But Hopkins explores enough hot-button issues (rape, teen plastic surgery, cyberharassment, etc.) to intrigue her fans and recruit new ones. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"This page-turner pulls no emotional punches."
Kirkus Reviews, April 2011

"Hopkins sticks to the signature style that has made her books bestsellers, blending verse poetry with controversial topics . . . to intrigue her fans and recruit new ones."
Publishers Weekly, July 2011

"This companion to Impulse can stand alone, but packs considerably more punch when read contiguously as intended. . . . Hopkins’s legions of fans will no doubt devour Perfect and welcome the return of the characters they learned to love in Impulse."
SLJ, August 2011

"Hopkins addresses teens’ struggle with unrealistic expectations in gut-wrenching free verse."
Booklist, August 2011

"At its nucleus, four teenagers are grappling with insecurities that become exacerbated when loved ones turn up the heat. . . . The unrestricted access Hopkins employs is formidable: parents, siblings, love interests, and outliers all thrust frank judgment on the characters. It is how Cara, Sean, Kendra, and Andre react that encourages readers’ emotional attachments. Her writing conveys teenage quandaries with all of the intended consequences, as the verse style only serves to shock as the events unfold."
VOYA, October 2011

Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
For the reader who is looking for the stereotypically worst parents accompanied by all of the problems that assail, or may assail teens, this is the book. Parents of the young adults in this volume are either cruel, physically abusive, verbally abusive, neglecting, ruthlessly ambitious or absentee. The result of such "parenting" is promiscuity—both heterosexual and homosexual, defeat, depression, eating disorders, or attempted and finally successful, suicide. Readers may discover themselves in one of the characters, but they will find little hope to deal with their crisis. The only air of anything like hope is the author's note at the conclusion of the book with statistics reflecting the current epidemic of eating disorders and the terrible price they exact, with some encouragement to be oneself, whatever that may mean to a floundering, desperate teen. The literary taste may be pleased with some sparklingly bright poetry, since the entire volume is written in blank verse and some descriptions are well done and beautiful. However, graphic scenes of sexuality, a veritable barrage of profanity and total lack of communication among family members rounds out this book that is, in this reviewer's mind, far from "perfect." Reviewer: Janice DeLong
VOYA - Alicia Abdul
A companion to Impulse (Simon & Schuster, 2007/VOYA February 2007), this vigorous verse novel highlights Conner's twin sister, Cara; her sporty boyfriend, Sean; pageant queen and model Kendra; and rich, aspiring dancer Andre. At its nucleus, four teenagers are grappling with insecurities that become exacerbated when loved ones turn up the heat. Cara's brother has attempted suicide, spotlighting an inexpressive mother who stresses distinction rather than showing affection. Similarly, Kendra's mother turns a blind eye to her daughter's anorexia, while Andre's parents' expectations keep him from pursuing his dance dream, and Sean's father's fixation with his baseball prowess fuels Sean's steroid abuse. Within these dilemmas, two begin to blossom while two begin to seethe. The unrestricted access Hopkins employs is formidable: parents, siblings, love interests, and outliers all thrust frank judgment on the characters. It is how Cara, Sean, Kendra, and Andre react that encourages readers' emotional attachments. Her writing conveys teenage quandaries with all of the intended consequences, as the verse style only serves to shock as the events unfold. The ill-fated conclusion continues to establish Hopkins as a realist, someone with vested concern for the challenges teens face daily from cyberbullying, dating violence, sexual orientation, prejudice, and fractured families. Ideally, readers will want to read Impulse first, as events began there and conclude here, but those who invest in Perfect will also be looking to find out the fate of these characters in the near future. Reviewer: Alicia Abdul
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This companion to Impulse (S & S/Pulse, 2007) can stand alone, but packs considerably more punch when read contiguously as intended. Impulse featured the interlocking narratives of Vanessa, Tony, and Conner, teens confined to a psychiatric facility after failed suicide attempts. Cara, Conner's twin, is Perfect's first narrator. Her story begins immediately after Conner's departure for the facility. She is on the cusp of her high school graduation and attempting to figure out who she is, if not the perfect image her mother expects. Kendra, Conner's ex-girlfriend, will do anything to become a model, regardless of what it means for her health or sense of self-worth. Andre wants to be a dancer, though this goal couldn't be further from what his parents expect for him. Sean is dead set on being with Cara for the long haul and dreams of playing ball at Stanford, but what will he sacrifice to get there? As Hopkins's readers have come to expect, each of the teens' lives spins out of control over the course of the novel as they stumble through sexual awakenings and violations, violent crime, and confrontations with racism. Some characters' voices are less clear than others. Andre's story, for example, focuses so much on his relationship with Kendra's daredevil sister that his important internal struggle—to dance or not to dance—is underplayed. Yet Hopkins's legions of fans will no doubt devour Perfect and welcome the return of the characters they learned to love in Impulse.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

While not razor-edged like her previous work, Hopkins' portrait of four 12th-graders who are expected to be perfect will nonetheless keep teens up all night reading.

In a Reno suburb, expectations take heavy tolls. Trying to excel at baseball and get into Stanford, Sean takes steroids and spirals into rage and rape. Kendra does pageants but wants to model, so she schedules plastic surgery and stops eating. Andre takes dance lessons in secret, funding them with money that his wealthy, status-conscious parents give him for fashionable sweaters. Cara seems faultless at everything from cheerleading to grades, but she's falling in love with a girl. The four first-person narrations are set in different type and have mildly different styles, but the free verse lacks Hopkins' trademark sharp, searing brittleness. However, the less-sharp tone works here, because these characters are more depressed than dissociated. The ostensible focus on perfection is a coping mechanism against families that are absent, cold and brutally silent, so the consequences—anorexia, drugs, booze, rape, delusion, deception—all ring true. It also rings true that some characters buckle, worst off at the story's end, while others find themselves and may make it.

This page-turner pulls no emotional punches; readers should find Impulse (2007) first, because this is a sequel at heart, and knowing the prior work in advance adds crucial layers of meaning. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-17)

The Barnes & Noble Review

In 2008, a writer at the publishing website Mediabistro pointed out that Ellen Hopkins, now the author of eight young adult novels written in verse, might be America's bestselling living poet. Whether or not this is true—it may well be—the author's official biography now proudly sports the title.

Hopkins doesn't traffic much in rhyme or meter; the most distinctive aspects of her verse are tricky line breaks (i.e., setting off words in the far margin to create a new sentence, such as "love is a deadly weapon") and formidably thick novels (this one runs to over 600 pages, though it can be read in a long afternoon). The viewpoint in Perfect alternates between four Nevada teens all trying to live up to the condition announced by the title: Kendra's "vanilla hair and glacier blue eyes" have kept her on the pageant circuit, but she decides that becoming a runway model will require losing dangerous amounts of weight, a rhinoplasty, and, perplexingly, breast implants (is Hopkins thinking Vogue or Victoria's Secret?).

Meanwhile, Andre Marcus Kane III can't let his wealthy, educated African-American parents know that he really wants to be a dancer, not a banker. Sean thinks of himself as "Built, " "like a builder/frames a house, " though the steroids probably help. Cara, whose twin brother has recently attempted suicide, sees her mother and her friends as "beautiful, pampered birds, / plumage-proud, but blind / to what they drop their shit on" and fears she is bound for the "same aviary. Unless I find my wings."

Sexting, stalking, anorexia, and drug use ensue; but throughout, Hopkins works to maintain a delicate touch, especially with a lesbian coming-out narrative, that keeps some—though not all—of the dramas away from easy clichés.

Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times Book Review. Reviewer: Amy Benfer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416983255
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 12/3/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 34,526
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Tilt, Smoke, and Rumble, as well as the adult novels Triangles and Collateral. She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she has founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative. Visit her at EllenHopkins.com and on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter at @EllenHopkinsYA. For more information on Ventana Sierra, go to VentanaSierra.org.

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Read an Excerpt

Perfect


  • I’ve lived with the pretense

of perfection for seventeen

years. Give my room a cursory

inspection, you’d think I have OCD.

But it’s only habit and not

obsession that keeps it all orderly.

Of course, I don’t want to give

the impression that it’s all up to me.

Most of the heavy labor is done by

our housekeeper, Gwen. She’s an

imposing woman, not at all the type

that most men would find attractive.

Not even Conner, which is the point.

My twin has a taste for older

women. Before he got himself

locked away, he chased after more

than one. I should have told sooner

about the one he caught, the one

I happened to overhear him with,

having a little afternoon fun.

Okay, I know a psychologist

would say, strictly speaking,

he was prey, not predator.

And in a way, I can’t really

blame him. Emily is simply

stunning. Conner wasn’t the only

one who used to watch her go

running by our house every

morning. But, hello, she was

his teacher. That fact alone

should have been enough warning

that things would not turn out well.

I never would have expected

Conner to attempt the coward’s way

out, though. Some consider suicide

an act of honor. I seriously don’t agree.

But even if it were, you’d have to

actually die. All Conner did was

stain Mom’s new white Berber

carpet. They’re replacing it now.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 316 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(244)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(18)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 317 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 7, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    ...

    I have read all Ellen Hopkins's books & I have truly loved each and every one of them. Can't wait to read more.

    26 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2011

    I LOVE THIS BOOOK!!!!!!!

    I have read all of the Ellen Hopkins books. This one was a little slow in the begginning but as the book went on, it got very intereasting.My favorite character is Sean because he is like a crzy psycho stalker and he always keeps you guessing what is going to happen next.

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Soooo excited for it to come out!

    I have read every single Ellen Hopkins book & I have truly loved each and every one of them. I STRONGLY recommend them! :)

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    ......perfect!

    So the begining started slow and it got me a bit confused until i leaened the characters connections. But mid book its like BAM and epic twists and turns. And the end is like OMG. Definitly worth reading. Another win for ellen hopkins! Cant wait for Triangles!

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    Ellen hopkins books

    Her books r the best!!! I will cry to death if she stops writing!!! Cant wait for next ones i preorder them all..

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 20, 2011

    Perfect

    Please read impulse first, the two are so much more impacting when read together

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2011

    i cant wait!

    ellens books arent just for teens! theyre for everyone!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    I just. idk i didnt like how cara was gay and that they talked a

    I just. idk i didnt like how cara was gay and that they talked about lust and sex a lot..... It didnt appeal to me but could be different for you. idk but some was okay

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2011

    perfect!!

    This was a really great book, it was sad though because there are people/kids with problems like these. The ending was a little disappointing because I feel like they left some peoples ending out but overall great book, hope they make a sequel.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 15, 2011

    A Must Read!

    Ellen Hopkins, Hands down my FAVORITE author! Her books are soo real and true yet with a twist of a little fantisy. Reading her books take you too your own world and you will never want to put her books down. I cannot wait for this book because it looks amazing and I wish with all my heart that I didn't have to wait til August to red it! <3

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    YES! a new boook !

    Hands down Ellen Hopkins is one of my top favorite authors' i have read almost every single boook this is going to be another best seller !!! already pre-ordered it !(:

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Yes!!!

    I almost screamed when I saw this. Ellen Hopkins hands down is one of my favorite authors. Impulse is my all time favorite book and I can't wait for this! And awesome cover

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2011

    Read it!!!!!

    Impulse was simply amazing and this one is going to be like it then i will surely love it and i recommend it for anyone to read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    It is a beautifully written story that I guarantee will leave yo

    It is a beautifully written story that I guarantee will leave you in tears

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    This book is totally perfect. It shows you how people may look p

    This book is totally perfect. It shows you how people may look perfect on the outside but inside their heart and whole body organs are shredding into pieces, like everyone else, they all have a &quot;happy&quot; place they rather be than at home or with boyfriends or friends. If you are looking for a book that will make you learn lessons in life and cry this is it. All I can say is that Perfect by Ellen Hopkins is P-E-R-F-E-C-T

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    Strongly recomend

    This book is so REAL. It truly related to every single aspect of my life at one point in time. It strongly emltional and has almost evertluthing in it. The beauty the emotion the reality in this book was breathtaking. Please read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Must read book

    Ellen Hopkins is a phenomenal writer with a storyline that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Hopkins breaks many social, mental and emotional barriers in "Perfect" and its a must read for teens of all ages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!

    I couldnt stop reading it!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2012

    Good read for all ages!

    Ellen Hopkins did it again! What a great way for us to get a glimpse of what really goes on in the lives of teens today. Not to mention an easy read with Ellen's writing style! Looking forward to another book soon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2012

    It was really good but i hope she writes another one to go with

    It was really good but i hope she writes another one to go with it because the ending was not the way i wanted it to end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 317 Customer Reviews

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