Perfect

Perfect

4.5 319
by Ellen Hopkins
     
 

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What would you give up to be perfect? Four teens find out in the New York Times bestselling companion to Impulse.

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

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Overview

What would you give up to be perfect? Four teens find out in the New York Times bestselling companion to Impulse.

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 understand.

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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416983255
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
12/03/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
656
Sales rank:
72,777
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 2.40(d)
Lexile:
HL570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Perfect

Perfection


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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