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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416983255
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 12/03/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 64,665
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 2.40(d)
Lexile: HL570L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen young adult novels, as well as the adult novels Triangles, Collateral, and Love Lies Beneath. 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 and on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter at @EllenHopkinsLit.

Read an Excerpt


  • 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.

  • Reading Group Guide

    A Reading Group Guide to Perfect by Ellen Hopkins


    Everyone dreams about the perfect life, but an obsession with perfection can be crippling. Cara Sykes is beautiful, rich, and destined for Stanford. She has the seemingly ideal circumstance; however, unreal parental expectations have already sent her twin brother, Conner, to a psychiatric hospital for attempted suicide, and Cara herself, confused over her sexual identity, is afraid to admit that she is not sexually drawn to her boyfriend, Sean, but rather to Danielle, a girl she meets snowboarding. Her admission will destroy the perfect image her parents have impressed upon her. Sean O’Connell, a baseball star resolute on earning a scholarship to Stanford to be near Cara, pumps iron and takes steroids to become the perfect hitting machine, but the steroids send him into a spiral of rage. Paralleling their relationship is the story of two sisters, Kendra and Jenna Mathieson. Kendra, Conner’s former girlfriend, will do anything to become a supermodel, including starving her 5'10" frame down to a size 2, having rhinoplasty and a breast augmentation, and having sex with older men in the modeling world who promise to take her to the top. Jenna, wounded by living in the shadows of her “perfect” sister, pops pills, drinks, and flaunts her sexuality. Andre Kane, Jenna’s rich boyfriend, does not escape perfectionism—his mother is a plastic surgeon who turns image dreams into reality, and he himself, interested in becoming a professional dancer, fears sharing his passion with his parents because they believe a perfect life includes a financially rewarding career. Driven by expectations, all five teens feel disempowered and fear not living up to expectations. In order to survive, they must find courage to stand up for who they really are.


    Is perfection a reality or an unattainable abstraction? Explain.

    In what ways do today’s youth feel a need to be perfect?

    Is the need for perfection self-imposed or is it caused by external forces? Why are some individuals more driven than others to be perfect? Explain.


    How does Cara view her parents? Describe her relationship with them. What happened to her brother, Conner?

    Compare and contrast Kendra and Jenna. Are they close? Why or why not?

    Why does Kendra’s mother impress the importance of pageants upon Kendra? What effect does the pressure have?

    Jenna appears not to be driven by perfection. In fact, she seems to retaliate against her parents’ expectations, but she is self-destructive all the same. Explain.

    Why does Jenna take Andre with her to have lunch with her father and his future wife? Why does she not feel good enough for Andre?

    Sean begins as a likeable character, but as the story progresses he spins out of control. Why does he have difficulty accepting Cara’s sexuality?

    Andre feels special affection for his grandparents. What did he learn about pursuing one’s dreams from his grandfather? How are his decisions affected by his relationship with his grandparents?

    Kendra believes “Empty is the perfect state of being” What does she mean? What other characters in the story would agree with her? How might they define empty?

    Sean lost his parents at an early age. How might this loss affect his fear of losing Cara? How might it impact his behavior?

    Cara says, “Transformation begins—and ends—inside of you.” What accounts for this belief? What does it say about her ability to deal with her parents’ expectations of her?

    When Sean learns that Cara is no longer interested in him, he does not want to stop his anger. He says he doesn’t want to stop it “because anger feels better than the pain of losing someone.” Do you agree or disagree? What accounts for Sean’s perspective?

    In what way is Cara impacted by her brother’s death? Her parents? What does Sean learn from Conner’s death?

    Shantell is a minor character in the story. In what way does she foil Jenna’s personality? What does Andre learn about relationships from Shantell?

    One might say Andre finds release in dancing. Explain.

    Which character has the most difficult challenges to overcome? Why? Who is the most likely to succeed and why?

    Compare and contrast Andre’s mother and Cara’s mother. Which mother is more capable of understanding the damage she may have caused as well as her son’s or daughter’s feelings? Who is more likely to admit she has made parenting mistakes?

    How can an emphasis on perfection make an individual believe he/she is not worthy or good enough?


    Identify passages for the main characters that illustrate their perspectives on and/or definition of love. Do their beliefs change throughout the story? What accounts for the way they define relationships? Write a short poem from the perspective of one character that illustrates his/her perspective on male/female relationships.

    Individuals who have been driven to be perfect often say they are afraid of failure. Why might this fear exist? Is it rational? Interview a family member or another older person about how he/she set goals in high school. What goals did they achieve and what or who influenced the choices they made? What fears did they have? What would they change now if given the chance?

    Hopkins’s work is rich in metaphor. Examine the metaphor that begins “Some people say love is fire.” What does this metaphor tell readers about the complexities of love? Find other examples of metaphor in the text and discuss their meaning. Try your hand at writing your own metaphor for perfection.

    Research statistics on teens and plastic surgery or steroid use. What trends do you see? What dangers exist for young people who undergo plastic surgery or who use steroids?

    Guide prepared by Pam B. Cole, Professor of English Education & Literacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.

    This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

    Customer Reviews

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    Perfect 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 321 reviews.
    enticed More than 1 year ago
    I have read all Ellen Hopkins's books & I have truly loved each and every one of them. Can't wait to read more.
    imawesome88 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    iCarlyGleek More than 1 year ago
    I have read every single Ellen Hopkins book & I have truly loved each and every one of them. I STRONGLY recommend them! :)
    ASparrowWrites More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Samantha Maskey More than 1 year ago
    Please read impulse first, the two are so much more impacting when read together
    kelsey prough More than 1 year ago
    Her books r the best!!! I will cry to death if she stops writing!!! Cant wait for next ones i preorder them all..
    TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
    ellens books arent just for teens! theyre for everyone!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It is a beautifully written story that I guarantee will leave you in tears
    truth3 More than 1 year ago
    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 "happy" 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
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    JeanGrey94 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I couldnt stop reading it!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    DustinDJ More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Was not my favorite book by ellen hopkins but it was still good
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A thriller of a novel. Ellen Hopkins writes all of my favorites and this is by far one of her best yet!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I strongly recommend every single on of her books! I read CRANK several years ago and have been addicted to her books ever since!!
    Queen_Lover More than 1 year ago
    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
    Bubblezmarie More than 1 year ago
    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
    Brittsmiles More than 1 year ago
    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.
    kayla_merritt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely loved the first book, Impulse, so I had high expectations for Perfect. My expectations were definitely met. The book was one of those books that just sucks you in from the beginning and you don't want to put it down. I loved how the characters had different issues going on, but the stories were intertwined. I think I identified most with Kendra and her need to be perfect to impress others. The only character I didn't care or was Jenna, because of the way she uses Andre. The ending of this book made me cry, which a book hasn't done in years. It's great YA read, and can be read after I pulse or just read by itself.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    She moans help him out daddy
    ssteiner86 More than 1 year ago
    shayb_ More than 1 year ago
    I really like this book, it provides great insight as to the lives of seemingly perfect teens who are actually super messed up and I especially found Kendra interesting, an aspiring model who had developed a eating disorder.