Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cracked Up to Be

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers was another book I picked up at Barnes & Noble last Friday. I had seen some people talk about it on my online bookclub site and thought it sounded interesting.

The preview from Goodreads goes like this:
What's the worst thing you've ever done?
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

When I first read this description, I immediately tried to think of what happened to her. My first thought: she was raped. Unfortunately, my job as a sexual assault counselor/advocate has jaded me, and this is often my first thought depending on the information provided to me. The only spoiler I will give is that she was NOT raped.

I was actually pleased to learn this. The concept of a teen girl being raped and then spiraling out of control seems to be a very common story (or at least one I hear every day). The ending of the story gave a unique twist that I found intriguing and pleasing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Summers's main character, Parker, goes from perfect to disappointing. She was the ideal daughter/student/girlfriend, then suddenly she is none of those. No one can understand exactly why she is behaving the way she is, but they think they know.

Parker's struggle with what she knows and trying to move forward comes to life in the way Summers tells the story. The flashbacks she includes give bits and pieces of information to provide insight on how Parker got to this point. I really liked this. It made it like a guessing game for me. I had clues and could put them together to try to determine what happened to Parker.

Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was the relationship between Parker and Jake. I won't give too many details, but I liked that it wasn't a typical "boy meets girl" relationship.
Overall, I really liked Cracked Up to Be. The story kept me interested, the writing seemed true to the perspective of a high school senior, and I wasn't bored by some of the common scenarios found in YA books.

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