“Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing.” –Huntley Fitzpatrick
When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High's resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:
1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.
Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?
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About the Author
Rebecca lives just outside the beautiful city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband, two children, and one spoiled rotten cat. She absolutely loves living so close to the ocean. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found vacuuming up cat hair, spending time with her family, watching reality TV, reading all different genres of books, or strolling around the bookstore with a vanilla latte in her hand. Visit Rebecca on her website www.rebeccawritesya.com and on Twitter @RebeccaWritesYA.
Read an Excerpt
By Rebecca Phillips
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Phillips
All rights reserved.
When I seduced Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, I never imagined he'd still be sneaking in and out of my bedroom window six months later. Then again, nothing about our relationship had ever been conventional.
"Shh" I said. "My mom's upstairs"
"She never hears anything" Tyler said with a frustrated grunt.
My window was stuck again. I lay on my stomach on the bed, my eyes on his slim silhouette as he banged his palm against the latch, trying to loosen it. A string of profanity followed each thump. Tyler had zero patience for things that didn't yield easily.
I rolled over and pulled the covers up to my chin. He was right—my mother never heard anything. Not even the strange noises coming from her daughter's basement bedroom in the middle of the night. Just like she never smelled my cigarette smoke or saw the roadmap of red lines that snaked through the whites of my eyes after a particularly wild party. She probably wasn't even aware that my bedroom window opened up to the side of the house where a person could slip in and out, undetected in the darkness.
After a few more minutes of abuse, the window finally creaked open. The faint, crisp scent of winter filtered through the stuffiness in the room. Tyler shoved his feet into his sneakers and turned to the window, bracing his arms on the sill and steeling his body in preparation to boost himself out. Then, changing his mind, he spun back around to face me.
"You really need a new window." He raised his voice as if he was trying to alert my mother to his presence. He loved to goad me, see how far he could push me before I got mad and started locking him out. "I can't risk getting stuck in here for the night."
My insides recoiled at the thought of spending the entire night with him. "I'll just grease the hinges again or something. Good night."
"Anxious to get rid of me, Lexi?"
"You're letting all the heat out," I replied.
He reached behind him to shut the window again and returned to the bed, where I was still snuggled up under the multicolored quilt my grandmother had made for me when I was a baby. I wondered what she'd think if she could see me now.
"What are you doing?" I asked when Tyler kicked off his shoes and crawled onto the bed.
He settled on his back on top of the quilt's patterned squares, eyes closed, arms crossed over his chest. "I'm not ready to go yet."
I squinted at his profile. Usually, he was out of here before his heart rate and breathing even had a chance to slow down. He never stayed with me, never lay next to me while my cheeks still burned from his prickly stubble and my own secret shame.
"We're going to get caught, Tyler."
"We're not going to get caught," he said with utmost confidence, like the petty criminal he was. "You said your mom never sets foot in your room."
This was true. She'd avoided my room for years, and not because she respected my privacy. Six years ago, when I brought Trevor home from the pet store, I quickly realized that owning a corn snake came with some unexpected perks. For one, people thought I was weird, which I didn't mind much back in sixth grade. And two, my mother's deathly fear of snakes afforded me hours of uninterrupted alone time in my room, which I didn't mind either.
I wasn't sure why she was so afraid. Trevor (named after a boy I had a crush on at the time) lived in a tank on my dresser and rarely escaped anymore. He spent most of his time either hiding or eating the dead mice I stored in boxes behind a stack of ice trays in the freezer. Mom avoided the freezer too.
"So," Tyler said, wrapping one of my strawberry-blond curls around his index finger. "You wanna do it again?"
"No." I reached down to retrieve my T-shirt and slipped it on under the blankets. Once was enough. Once was always enough to release the pent-up frustration inside me, if only for a little while. Twice wouldn't happen unless I initiated it. I needed to be the one in control, which was why I'd chosen Tyler, Oakfield High's resident badass/burnout/man-whore. His type dodged commitment and never fell in love. He didn't care about being used, and he knew how to be discreet. And even though he was failing most of his classes, he wasn't stupid. He'd never risk the good thing he had going with me. Also, the sneaking around turned him on.
Tyler gave up on trying to tempt me with an encore and lit up a cigarette. He wedged a couple pillows behind his head and took long, lazy puffs as if relaxing in the park.
Annoyed, I sat up and flicked on the lamp.
"Hey," he said, shutting his eyes against the light.
I looked over at him, noticing that his perpetually tousled dark hair was even messier than usual, likely because I'd been running my fingers through it earlier. His shirt was inside out, his zipper half down, his neck mottled with what looked like a bite mark. Was this what he looked like afterward? I'd never actually looked closely at him after the fact. Usually, all I saw was his back and then his legs as he shimmied out my window.
"Why are you still here, Tyler?" I asked, waving away his smoke. "It's one o'clock in the morning. I want to go to sleep."
He smirked. "And have sweet dreams about Mr. Wonderful?"
"Don't push me," I warned.
"Oh right. Sorry, I forgot. It's a Lexi Rule."
I shot him a look. Okay, so I did have a few rules, but nothing unreasonable or difficult to follow. One, he had to avoid me at school. Two, he had to keep his mouth shut about what we did together. And three ... under no circumstances was he ever allowed to tease me about my friend Ben, who I'd had an unrequited crush on for two years. Ben, with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, did not belong in this room with us. He wasn't like us.
Tyler finished his cigarette and dropped the butt into the half-empty can of 7-Up on my nightstand. As he did this, I heard a cough coming from upstairs and then footsteps plodding across the floor. My mother was walking from her bedroom, where she stayed up late every night watching the Game Show Network, to the kitchen, which was right above my room. Next, she would pour herself a glass of iced tea or white wine if there was any left over from the weekend, and then trudge back to her bedroom and shut the door. Family Feud, Press Your Luck, Match Game, Password, The Price is Right ... she watched them all for hours on end, her expression never changing aside from a raised eyebrow now and again when a contestant was being particularly boneheaded. She gave me the same look sometimes.
"Okay, it's time to go now," I said, elbowing Tyler in the ribs. It freaked me out that he was beside me and not evacuating the house like it was on fire, which had been the case most other nights. Having him here while my mother was awake went way beyond my comfort zone. "I have a math test first period tomorrow. Come on." I poked him again, and he finally started to get up.
"Oh yeah, I guess I do, too." He looked down at me and smirked again. "Thanks for helping me study again. I never knew vectors and shit could be so interesting."
"You're welcome," I said, even though we hadn't studied at all. The last time we really studied together was back in late September, when I used our upcoming math quiz as an excuse to get him into my room for the first time. He needed a tutor, I needed an outlet. It was all very practical and casual. Clinical, almost. Devoid of emotion.
Lately, though, I could feel something changing, the way animals can sense when a storm is near. A subtle shift in the air between us. A possessive look burning into my back as I passed him in the hall at school. A touch so gentle it made my breath hitch. And now this, sticking around as long as he dared, not quite ready to leave.
This was bad. It seemed Tyler was on the verge of breaking the one rule I'd left unspoken. Do not get attached.
I needed to squash this problem immediately.
"Let's not do this anymore," I said to his bare back as he took off his shirt and turned it right side out. I kept my eyes on the tattoo on his left shoulder blade—the grim reaper in his black cloak, smiling and holding a scythe. The harvester of souls.
Tyler pulled on his shirt and glanced back at me with a flickering of a smile. I tried not to let it get to me. All my life, I'd suffered such a weakness for boys like him. In the first grade, I'd had a massive crush on Cody Hatcher, who pushed kids at recess and regularly spit on the teachers. By middle school, I felt myself drawn to the troubled boys with bad home lives who cut class and sneaked cigarettes behind the convenience store. Then, in the tenth grade, when I started cultivating my good girl image and making new friends, I gave up on the bad boys and set my sights on the nice, well-adjusted ones. Like Ben Dorsey, for instance, track star and honors student and way too good to be true. Too good for me, anyway, which was why I'd strayed back to the bad boys again.
But nobody could ever know about that.
"Do what?" Tyler said, even though he knew full well what I meant. He'd heard those words from me before.
"This." I gestured to the tangled sheets and my half-nude body and then to him, the ultimate bad boy with his tattoo and cigarettes and close, personal acquaintance with the entire Oakfield police department.
"This," he repeated, leaning over the bed toward me, his hands sinking into the mattress. I pulled away from him, but not before I caught the warm, smoky scent of his skin. He saw my reaction and laughed, which infuriated and excited me. "You really want to stop this. You want me to leave and never come back. Right?"
We stared each other down. From above, I could hear the faint applause of a live studio audience.
"Right," Tyler said, lowering his face to mine. He kissed me and I let him, even though once had been enough and he was the one in control and my mother was upstairs and awake.
I knew I was supposed to refuse him, to squash this problem once and for all and become the girl most people saw each day—the smiling, confident girl who'd secured a place at the top of the high school food chain. But I could never truly be her, at least not permanently. So I turned off the lamp, wrapped my arms around Tyler's neck, and pulled him closer. I shut my mind to everything else, including the intrusive thoughts of Ben. Ben, who I possibly could have loved if only I was brave enough to love someone like him.
I didn't love Tyler Flynn. I didn't even like him.CHAPTER 2
In the morning I took an extra-long shower, ridding my skin and hair of cigarette smoke and Tyler's scent. Then I got to work on my daily transformation routine.
My hair, otherwise known as the bane of my existence, took the longest to perfect. When I was little it was yellowish-blond and curly, but over the years it had evolved into a pale copper shade and the curl had loosened somewhat. Still, it needed vast amounts of product to tame, especially on damp days.
Next, a layer of foundation to hide the spattering of freckles across the bridge of my nose, and then a few dramatic swipes of black liquid eyeliner that always felt like too much. But heavy eye makeup was the trend and fitting in was imperative.
Lastly, the outfit—jeans and shirt and coat and boots, all the right fit and the right colors and the right labels. Dangly earrings, a few bracelets, a knotted scarf around my neck ... check, check, and check. Costume complete, I was now fit for school.
Mom and I owned one car, a five-year-old Ford Focus that we shared. Maybe shared is the wrong word, since sharing generally means a fairly equal division. Mom took the car to work each day from Monday to Saturday, which meant I couldn't use it to drive to school. She was a massage therapist at a day spa and she usually worked well into the evening. By the time she got home, I was either too tired to go out or already gone. Maybe, if I was lucky and she happened to be too hungover from the night before to get out of bed, I got to use the car on Sunday, her day off.
No car on school days meant either walking in unpredictable weather or the bus. Or in my case, a friend with his own wheels.
Right on schedule, Ben's silver Acura TL pulled up in front of my house. The TL was his newest acquisition, a step up from his last car and utterly impractical for an eighteen-year-old boy, but you could get away with driving lavish cars when your father owned the dealership.
"Hey," Emily said when I slid into the backseat. She handed me a paper to-go cup and I breathed in the familiar scent of nutmeg. A large chai tea latte, my favorite.
"Hi." I leaned over to say good morning to Ben and Kyla, the girl he'd been seeing for the past month and a half. I'd made little headway bonding with her. She was much friendlier to Emily, but only because Emily was Ben's cousin and in no way a threat to her. I wasn't a threat to her, either. Ben treated me the same way he treated Emily—like a blood relative. When he was dating someone, which he almost always was, he didn't even look at other girls, let alone hook up with them. Kyla had nothing to worry about.
"Lexi," Emily said in a scolding tone as I settled back into my seat.
"What?" I knew exactly why she was frowning, but I was majorly talented at playing innocent and it never hurt to try. Suddenly, I was glad the thick stripes of eyeliner made my eyes seem wider and more naive. I blinked at her.
"You promised us you'd stop."
"I did!" For about a week ...
She leaned over to sniff my hair and then drew back, her narrowed eyes steady on my face. "You didn't. You smoked"
I looked away and took a sip of latte. Okay, so I'd smoked a cigarette this morning while reviewing my math. My first one in nine days. I knew how much my friends hated it, and I had promised to stop, but I'd woken up feeling so rattled over last night's first-ever double feature with Tyler that I'd just needed something to calm my nerves. I was sure I'd stood outside long enough to air myself out, but apparently not. I felt doubly guilty. "I'm sorry."
Ben sighed and ran a hand through his short, golden-blond hair. Everything about him was golden, from his hair to his status at school right down to the flecks in his warm hazel eyes. Even after knowing him for two years, his greatness still intimidated me at times. Emily was the same, wholesome and admired and untouchable. Maybe it ran in their family. It was hard work, being worthy of these two.
"Where's the pack?" Ben asked, turning around and giving me a deliberate look, like he already knew I had it on me—which I did.
I'd thought I might be able to sneak another one by the soccer field later.
I extracted the half-full pack of smokes from my bag and passed it up to him. Wordlessly, he stuffed it into his jacket pocket, keeping it safe until he could get to a garbage can. Ben and Emily liked the idea of saving me ... from cancer, from other people, from myself. And I let them, because frankly, I could use some saving.
"I'll quit for good this time," I told my friends, who were both wearing I'm-very-disappointed-in-you looks. Kyla stared straight ahead, sipping her coffee.
Emily opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by a loud tapping noise. We all jumped and looked toward the driver's side window. My neighbor, Nolan Bruce, stood shivering beside the car, half-frozen water dripping off his jacket sleeves. He must have overslept and missed the bus again. Ben pressed the button to open the window.
"Can I get a ride?" Nolan asked, leaning over to see our faces. "I slept in and missed the bus again."
"Sure," Ben said, barely managing to sound civil. He wasn't done being miffed at me for my relapse. The annoyed set of his mouth grew even more pronounced when Nolan climbed in and tossed his soaking wet backpack against the back of Ben's seat.
I shot Nolan a look. He knew Ben was particular about his car, but that never stopped him from testing boundaries.
"Oops." Nolan made a big show of stowing his backpack on the floor and wiping at the wet leather with his equally wet sleeve. "There, good as new."
Excerpted from Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips. Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Phillips. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing. --Huntley Fitzpatrick
Poignant, edgy, and real, Faking Perfect is an honest look at the courage and strength it can often take simply to be yourself. --Julianna Scott, author of The Holders
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lexi is with the popular kids at school and does whatever it takes to stay there. But there is another Lexi the real Lexi who’s mom drinks a lot and acts like a teenager.She also doesn’t pay the bills. Lexi’s dad left when Lei was four. Lexi has been sneaking Tyler in her room at night and he knows to keep his mouth shut and never give anyone a reason to guess what they were up to. But deep inside Lexi has a crush on Ben who is a friend of hers. The only person she can completely be herself with is her neighbor and friend Nolan. The her dad contacts her after almost thirteen years and she has to decide what to do about that. Also Ben asks her out but it isn’t as great as she thought it would be. Also she thinks about her bad boy Tyler when with Ben. for the most part I really liked the story and plot it did keep me reading. I wanted everything to turn out good for Lexi. This story did have enough of everything it needed even the bad boy falling in love. I really enjoyed the characters , they really made the story what it was especially Lexi and all she went through. Only problem I had was it was slow at times. I recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON: http://athousandwordsamillionbooks.blogspot.com/ Screw Up Girl, hooking up with resident bad boy, who specialises in all things no strings attached while is not so secretly in love the good boy who she knows won't tolerate the bad boy one bit. But now that she's finally got the good, golden, perfect guy, the bad boy has already fallen hard! Add in a mom who cares about sleazy boyfriends more than her daughter and an absentee drug addict father, Faking Perfect has the workings of a pretty good contemporary! And yet, I could use only one word to describe what I felt through the whole book: nothing. The writing was so detached, I should say- with no exaggeration or emotion, even though all the elements for a good book were there, there was nothing I felt. I did finish the book, but I feel like I must elaborate. Her mother doesn't care about a thing she does? And rather than feeling anything, or even holding some sort of grudge, she simply accepted it. No feelings involved. Her new 'perfect' friends. That was a concept I didn't get AT ALL! She knows, she knows that they're not really her friends, that she's someone completely different around them, that they think she's some screw up and they're always judging her, but she doesn't care. She even calls what she's doing a facade, but she keeps at it. But even that is talked about as if it's nothing. And then she starts dating the golden boy. And then she KNOWS that he's controlling, that he's pitting her against her best friend, and that its all an act with him and the kisses done make her feel anything, but keeps at it. I mean, if you know, then why are you still there? Overall, a book I wouldn't really recommend. 3 stars.
Lexi is in crisis – she’s been ‘faking perfect’ to make up for an alcoholic mother, an absentee father and no self-esteem. We start by hearing about how long (and trying) it is to get ready for school, and we see her willingness to ‘use’ the “bad boy” for some sort of self-validation – as long as no one knows. I could understand that – filling a void with ‘let’s pretend’ because reality is so awful: but Lexi goes one step further: everything, from the people she encounters to the daily grind is ALL about her. Where most would focus on everything BUT themselves, Lexi only sees the world in terms of the way it effects or reflects on her. Everything is about Lexi. Full Stop. Even conversations have little grounding in reality or feel natural or possible, not quite forced, just sanitized. Tyler – well, we know he dealt weed – but he stopped, and started to get his act together. Above all, he was willing to deal with the, by this point, a highly annoying and whinging Lexi. But, her crush, Ben, finally looks at her. But we know little about Ben, except kissing him is Nice. Nice is such a flat word – fitting for Lexi since she was pretty flat in personality and character, but I would hope that other adjectives could enter the book. But they don’t. Not really. It is all ‘common knowledge’ with no growth or development for Ben, and the frequently shared information about the controlling and immature boy he is misses her by. Sadly, from the love triangle trope through the lack of self-esteem and the ‘bad boy’ versus Big Man on Campus love interests, any one of which could have been compelling if not brought forth an emotion other than ‘again?!?’ from me, the lack of development or growth for Lexi pulled the whole story down, leaving me wondering just why it was written. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Bad boy Tyler Flynn has been sneaking into Lexi's bedroom window for the last six months, but no one knows. Lexi actually likes the perfect Ben, so she hides her darker side behind the façade of being a good girl. She hangs around with the popular crowd, but her real best friend is her geeky neighbor Nolan - he's the only one she can really be herself with. She can't let her "friends" see the real her - the vulnerable girl abandoned by her father and with a self-involved mother who pays her no attention. Then, when Tyler starts acting weird, Lexi's absent father suddenly resurfaces, and Lexi receives unwanted advances from her mother's latest pervy boyfriend, Lexi knows she is in for one hell of a senior year. But, sometimes your true love can be right under your nose, and you just don't know it. Will Lexi get her much-needed happy ending? Faking Perfect is heartbreaking in its intensity and believability. Here is a girl who feels unloved and abandoned and looks for love in all the wrong places. She hides her secrets in her Corn Snakes book because she knows her mother will never go near it. This girl could be you, or your daughter, or your best friend. This girl is real. Being the mother of two teenage girls myself, this is scary stuff. Hopefully, books like this will prompt us to become more aware of what is going on in the lives of our loved ones. A perfect read for teenage girls and their families. I received this book in return for an honest review.
'Faking Perfect' was a quick and enjoyable young adult contemporary novel. It revolves around our main character, Lexi, and the fact that she leads double lives. On one hand, there's the real Lexi - the one who's mom is always dating losers, getting drunk, not paying the bills, and acting like a teenager. The real Lexi's father was out of the picture when she was four because he was a drug addict, according to her mother. Without the love and support of her mom and a missing dad, Lexi turns to her best friend and neighbor - Nolan - to help her feel normal and safe. She is far from perfect and has bad habits and dark secrets that she keeps under lock and key. The other Lexi is the complete opposite of the real one. This girl is at the top of the social ladder at her high school, in the most popular clique, and does whatever it takes to stay there. She dresses the part, acts like her "perfect" friends do, and does whatever is expected of her to stay a part of the group. They have no idea about the real Lexi underneath - the one with the broken home, who smokes cigarettes and occasionally weed, and frequently sneaks the notorious bad boy of her school into her bedroom at night for obvious reasons. She can never let them learn about, let alone see, this other side of her. Lexi is confident that she has everything under control until it all starts to unravel at the same time. Ben - the perfect, golden boy of the school and Lexi's longtime secret crush - asks her out. Tyler - the guy she's been sneaking into her room at night is no longer sticking to her three rules, and now her dad's back in the picture after all these years. Lexi's world is spinning out of control and her two separate lives are starting to mix together - which was never supposed to happen. With everything going on, just how long will Lexi's fake self last before her true self comes out? I don't normally read YA contemporary fiction because I find that most of the stories are totally predictable, which doesn't appeal to me. This book fell into the incredibly predictable category, just as I thought it would. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing. I don't think that the author was trying to give the reader a bunch of twists or a surprise ending with this novel. The story was meant to be predictable so the reader could enjoy a quick read, but also because it focuses on more important issues. What you see is what you get with this one. Read the description and you'll know what's going to happen without even opening the book. But if you look underneath the story, you'll find a lot of important topics in today's society. Mostly the pressure that society places on people - usually teens and women - to look a certain way, act a certain way, and other ridiculous and nearly impossible standards. This topic is easy to see throughout the book and in Lexi's character. She basically represents all of us to a certain degree. Most people have things in their lives that wouldn't be deemed "acceptable" to society - they don't fit the mold that is expected of them. So what does Lexi do? The same thing everyone else does - she creates an alter-ego that does fit into all of these perfect little categories and has none of the bad characteristics of her real self. She creates an elaborate facade in order to fit in with the popular kids and to feel like she was accepted and she belonged. As we all know, the mask we create to hide our true selves can't stay in place forever - it's going to eventu
When I started this book I knew it would go one of two ways - a character I didn't like, messing her way through life, or a story about a likeable girl with a hard past determined to protect herself and with reason to project such a volatile exterior. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure which way I was leaning throughout the whole book. I didn't hate this book, nor did I love it. I kept reading hoping for some redeeming factors, something that would make me really connect with the main characters. It was an easy read and I was interested in the story, predominately because I was waiting for Lexi to wake up or snap out of it. But let me rewind a bit. Lexi is sleeping with Tyler. She just doesn't want her best friend, her friends, the whole school population or her longtime crush, Ben, to know about it. She can't help but be drawn to Tyler's bad boy vibe, but she longs to be perfect enough for Ben. Projecting a perfect facade isn't easy though, especially when her secret life starts colliding with her public persona, and her family life only gets more complicated. I kind of felt sorry for Lexi. Life for her is pretty tough, but then I also felt she was annoyingly naive. I hated the way she treats Tyler, and in the end, I didn't really care who she ended up with. Although I obviously thought one guy was the clear choice, I never really felt any connection with either of the male leads or Lexi herself. I felt that this book had lots of potential. I love hard-luck stories, girls who are searching for their identity and strength. But you know, I'm not so sure Lexi ever found hers. I wanted a more dramatic wake up, and for her to stand up for herself. A deeper connection with the romantic lead would have been better too. But the book wasn't all that bad, it just could have been better. I liked Lexi's best friend Nolan, who is quiet, artistic and not afraid to swim against the main flow. How Lexi reconnects with her father also offered a nice storyline. 3 stars, 3.5, 4, I'm not sure, but an easy read nonetheless. Recommended for ages 14 and up. Sexual references, drug and alcohol use and references. The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.