Book: Perfect by Natasha Friend, narrated by Danielle Ferland
Published January 2013 by Recorded Books|Run Time: 4 hours, 22 minutes
Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library
Genre: YA Contemporary
Isabelle Lee has a problem, and it’s not just Ape Face, her sister, or group therapy for an eating disorder, or even that her father died and her mother is depressed and in denial. It’s that Ashley, the most popular girl in school, is inviting Isabelle to join her at lunch and at sleepovers at her house, and this is presenting Isabelle with a dilemma. Pretty Ashley has moved Isabelle up the social ladder, but is it worth keeping the secret they share? Caught in the orbit of popularity and appearances, Isabelle must navigate a world with mixed messages, false hopes, and potentially harmful turns, while coping with her own flailing family and emotions. The author brings a depth of characterization, humor, and a real adolescent’s voice to this multileveled story about the desire to be perfect in an imperfect world.
I randomly picked this one up from the library recently, but it was an okay listen for me.
One: I wasn’t expecting Isabelle to be so young- granted, she’s 13, but I assumed that she would be a lot older. Still, it’s nice to see a book focused on a middle school character, instead of one in high school, which seems to be a lot more common.
Two: I didn’t feel like Isabelle moved up the social ladder at all. Sitting at the popular for all of two weeks…we don’t see much change in Isabelle’s social status as result, and she’s more on the periphery than anything else.
Three: At one point Ashley is bleeding from her mouth after we see both girls purge. Nothing happens with this, and it seemed like a random thing to bring up, only for Ashley to be perfectly fine. It’s explained away as “it happens sometimes, it’s no big deal.” I really expected Ashley to end up in the hospital or something.
Four: I did like seeing how Isabelle changed over the course of the book. By the end of the book, she was starting to deal with the death of her father, and she got to the point where she went over a day without throwing up, and I like seeing that change in her.
Five: Danielle Ferland seem to narrate a teenage girl pretty well, but there was nothing about her performance that really stood out to me. I wouldn’t avoid any books narrated by her, but I’m also not running out to see what else she’s narrated.
Six: This has more to do with the actual CD’s I checked out with the library, but there were a couple tracks on the last disk that were a little funky, and went super fast, so there are a few minutes I ended up missing…including the very end. I should probably say something when I return it.
Seven: Isabelle goes to group therapy, and Trish wants to see her individually…but it seems like no one ever mentions anything to Isabelle’s mom. Really? You want to see her more, and yet you only ask Isabelle, a 13-year-old girl, about it? That seems a little weird to me.
Eight: It seemed pretty open-ended, with not a lot of resolution, which is fine, but…I don’t know. I think I wanted more of a conclusion. Or even a longer book, because it wasn’t much over 4 hours, and maybe things could have been a little more resolved then they were in the book.
Nine: Her dad’s death was super-vague. She only mentioned he died unexpectedly, and that he was sick but they didn’t know about it, so that was really weird. Did the mom know, and not give her kids more information, or did everyone just get taken off-guard. There was just something off about his death.
Ten: How she treated her little sister. I’m an only child so sibling relationships are completely foreign to me, but I thought Isabelle treated her younger sister (by three years) sort of mean.
Eleven: The fact that a 13 year-old and ten-year-old are making themselves pizza from scratch and mac and cheese and have to feed themselves because their mom still cries herself to sleep at night and randomly sleeps during the day…they weren’t completely on their own, and their mom didn’t completely check out. But they were still on their own a lot, which is weird because their mom is a college professor teaching a couple classes. The mom also seems to constantly grading papers (understandable, given it’s English she teaches). And I’m sure the mom has meetings and office hours, but there was something off about the mom too. Besides grieving, something didn’t fit quite right.
2 stars. I wanted to like it more, but it was just okay.