Perfect Girl

Perfect Girl

3.8 12
by Mary Hogan

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Ruthie Bayer learns that finding yourself may only be a matter of looking in the right place at the right time. Ruthie Bayer is stuck. Her mom is totally overprotective, her dad is nonexistent, and her best friends can't help her now when she needs them most: Out of the blue, Ruthie has fallen in love with the boy next door, Perry. Perry has suddenly grown up

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Ruthie Bayer learns that finding yourself may only be a matter of looking in the right place at the right time. Ruthie Bayer is stuck. Her mom is totally overprotective, her dad is nonexistent, and her best friends can't help her now when she needs them most: Out of the blue, Ruthie has fallen in love with the boy next door, Perry. Perry has suddenly grown up and made her heart go 'thwang', and Ruthie has no idea what to do about it. Then a new girl shows up at school, and Ruthie realizes she has to do something, and fast.

Jenna is perfect, from her perfectly straight hair to her perfectly manicured toes. Perry's noticed her, too, and worse, Jenna has noticed him right back. Ruthie knows she has to call her aunt, New York's "Goddess of Love." If Aunt Marty, romance columnist and woman of the world, can't turn Ruthie into a perfect girl, no one can...but she might also turn Ruthie's entire world upside down.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gail Krause
Ruthie and her friends have dubbed the new girl in school "The Perfect Girl. She becomes alarmed that "The Perfect Girl" might steal her true love, Perry, the boy next door. But she fails to realize that Perry considered her the perfect girl. The problem is Perry's definition and Ruthie's definition do not mean the same thing. The story follows the life of a fourteen-year-old girl, her mother's fiery feud with her aunt Marty, and the apparent differences between her "stodgy" old mother and her "hip, cool, aunt" who lives in New York City. Aunt Marty writes a love advice column in a fashion magazine and she seems to be the perfect mentor for Ruthie and her love problems with Perry. Ruthie wants Perry to reciprocate her feelings, but doesn't know how to get him to. She's sure Aunt Marty can tell her, but when she follows her aunt's advice, things don't work out as Ruthie had fantasized. It is then she realizes that Perry does feel the same about he as she feels about him. He's the perfect boy and she's the perfect be best friends and nothing more. When Mr. Arthur, her mother's border, dies suddenly, Ruthie grows up and finds out what family and love really mean, and she realizes that what she had feared most, in fact has happened. Perry is infatuated with Jenna, the new girl. But, that's okay with Ruthie, because she realizes that the "perfect boy" is out there waiting for her.
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Fourteen-year-old Ruthie has fallen secretly in love with Perry, the boy next door who has been her very good friend since they were small. Both are fatherless only children: Perry's father abandoned him and his mother when Perry was two, and the only thing Ruthie knows about her father is that her mother, a lonely waitress in the tiny town of Odessa, Delaware, selected his characteristics from a sperm bank. Disowned by her parents after that decision, Ruthie's mother, Fay, is afraid of just about everything, but her greatest fear is that her sister Marty will steal Ruthie's affections. Ruthie has met Marty only once, when she was eleven, and her mother drove her to New York for a single night's stay with Marty and her husband, Richard. In striking contrast to Ruthie and Fay's frugal lifestyle in a rundown house which they share with Mr. Arthur, their elderly boarder, Marty and Richard live in a Sutton Place penthouse with marble floors and white couches. Richard is a divorce lawyer and Marty, as New York's "Goddess of Love," writes a column called "Martine on Men" in a glossy fashion magazine. When Jenna, a "perfect girl," enrolls in Ruthie's school and starts flirting with Perry, Ruthie calls her aunt for advice, and a few days later Marty appears at their door with enough luggage for a lengthy stay. In the course of her visit, she decorates Fay's house, enchants Ruthie's friends with her personality (and by letting them use her charge card at the mall), wins back Fay's affections, and teaches Ruthie to be more confident in her own appeal. Marty also breaks down and reveals that Richard is divorcing her. By this time, Ruthie's infatuation with Perry is over, and they are back tobeing good friends. Seeing him with Jenna at the Peach Blossom Parade leaves her wishing for someone to fall in love with, and at the end of the story, she and her girlfriends meet some promising boys at the mall. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito
KLIATT - Myrna Marler
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2007: The perfect girl of the title has only a walk-on part in this novel. She's who 14-year-old Ruth from tiny Odessa, Delaware, wants to be so that she can enthrall Perry, the boy next door since they were both in diapers, into falling in love with her as she has with him. She is cursed with a seriously uncool (i.e., neurotic, fat and single) mother; her father is an unknown strand of DNA, and her only other living relative, her glamorous Aunt Marty, seems to be off-limits by her mom's decree. Fortunately, Ruthie is blessed with three best friends, and when she calls her aunt on the sly, the aunt comes to town to take control. Family secrets spill out (though not enough to fill all the plot holes). Ruthie tries to learn from "Martine" how to become "the perfect girl," with limited success. An adventure in Washington, DC, at the Smithsonian and an unexpected death propel her further into maturity—as mature as a 14-year-old girl with no serious problems can be. Eventually, all her fantasies come true. The novel is supposed to be funny and appealing. The themes are about what makes a true family and how girls can best interact with boys. All of the advice is good and there are some humorous moments, but no issue is explored too deeply here. For instance, do 14-year-old girls really need to know (or be told) that silk underpants will make them more sensual and confident because they are wearing a delicious secret? One stunning insight is reiterated: sex between 14-year-olds is never a good idea. Reviewer: Myrna Marler
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9
This story walks the line between being funny and serious, and not always successfully. Fourteen-year-old Ruthie lives in tiny Odessa, DE, with her neurotic single mother. When she was 11, they visited her wealthy aunt in New York City but left after one night and Ruthie was forbidden to contact her again. Three years later, a new girl, whom she calls the Perfect Girl, attracts her friend Perry's attention just as Ruthie realizes that she is interested in him. The teen calls her aunt for advice, and she decides to come and help. She learns that Aunt Marty's husband left her for another woman and that she needed to get away. After she admits this to her sister, their relationship begins to thaw, and readers learn the reason for the grudge. Both adults' actions seem over-the-top. Thankfully, other than buying silk underwear at Victoria's Secret and getting endless pedicures, Aunt Marty's advice is mostly solid. Ruthie takes Perry, an astrology buff, to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. But, even though they have a terrific time and he calls Ruthie "a perfect girl," there's no when they kiss. It's a letdown after she has spent most of the book pining for him. In the end, while giving her eulogy at their elderly tenant's funeral, Ruthie realizes that it's the little details that define a relationship and that perfection is irrelevant. Aunt Marty moves out, but she's become part of Ruthie's life-and her mom's-for good.
—Tina ZubakCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Cosmopolitan aunt to the rescue! Fourteen-year-old Ruthie feels stifled by her tiny Delaware town, her frumpy and overprotective mother and the fact that her father was an unknown sperm donor. When she falls head-over-heels in love with lifelong friend Perry, she knows mom can't help. In secret, hardly breathing, she telephones glamorous Aunt Marty, mom's estranged sister who writes magazine love columns and is an official expert on men. Ruthie being smitten with rich Aunt Marty is at least as important as the tumultuous relationship between the adult sisters and Ruthie's pursuit of Perry. Hogan excels at young tenderness, such as Perry spooning Ruthie's foot, and an enchanted day they spend together in D.C. Mom gets a bum rap (caricatured confusingly as both a dowdy '50s throwback and an intentional single mom) while heroine Marty's high heels, manicures and diet examples (appetizer portions only) far outshine any depth that Hogan attempts. Fun, especially for readers who thrill at secret tips like "[a]lways wear silk underpants." (Fiction. 11-13)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Library Bound Edition
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Perfect Girl

Chapter One

She walks into class ten minutes after the bell. Twenty heads turn. Forty eyes watch her walk up to the front with her perfectly tan legs, perfectly blue halter top, and perfectly sweeping bangs.

Mr. Roland is already boring us. Chalk dust flying, he lists the six member councils of the United Nations on the board. His short-sleeve white shirt is so thin you can see the shadow of his back hair.

" . . . General Assembly, Security Council . . . ," his nasal voice drones on.

"I'd like to member her council," one of the guys says, flicking his head at the new girl. The class erupts in laughter. Well, the boys, anyway.

"Oh my," Mr. Roland says, turning around. "Who do we have here?"

She hands him a note. I stare and twirl a strand of red hair around my finger.

"Take a seat," our teacher says. And the new girl does. She calmly walks to the back of the room without blushing though everyone is watching her every move. Especially Perry. My Perry.

"This is Jenna Wilson, everyone," says Mr. Roland. The boys nod and smirk. The girls bend their lips up in fake smiles. Jenna sits and faces front. I notice she has a French manicure on her fingers and her toes. Curling my ragged nails into my palms, I face front, too.

" . . . Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice . . . "

Mr. Roland returns to the chalkboard and blathers on. The way he has all semester. I hear with my ears, but my mind is on the new girl. The perfect girl, who now sits between me and Perry Gould. I feel him checking her out. My heart sinks.

Of all times, whynow?

Perfect Girl. Copyright (c) by Mary Hogan . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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