Cracked Up To Be
23rd December 2008
St Martins Griffin
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 conselors 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.
Cracked Up To Be was brilliant. There were very few things about it that I didn't enjoy, and I think the only thing that stopped from truly loving it was that, even though it was great, you can tell that Courtney Summers can do even better. I cannot wait to read the rest of her books so I can see how the rawness of Cracked Up To Be can work itself into something even more awesome and beautiful, you know?
Parker Fadley, you are indeed far from 'perfect', but holy hell are you a wonderful, beautiful, complex character. Her voice was so strong throughout the book, and I think that that is what made it so great. I mean, Parker is a bitch, and I loved that anyway, but she also had so many layers. Sure, she was mean and bitchy and anal and a perfectionist, but she's also full of this guilt and pain about something that happened the last year and that you don't really know much about until the very end of the book. She has this insane need to be perfect and be the best and it's seriously like a compulsion for her. It was just really great to read about such an interesting character, though if you are the sort of reader who likes to read a book and not be in a lover/hate relationship with the POV character, Cracked Up To Be may not be the book for you (though even if you are that type of reader, you should still try it. It's really great.)
I liked the sort of mystery of the plot, too. As I've just said, it's sort of the main cause of Parker's recent sort of breakdown and this sort of change in her personality (I say sort of because she'd already been this type of person, she just hid it better and had more barriers before all of this shit). In a way, it was sort of predictable, but just because Parker is such a great and kind of unpredictable character, it was still really gripping to read. I also loved the fact that it did have such an impact on her, and showed another side to her that we wouldn't have got to see, like the fact that she has panic attacks and has just shut down because of it.
I think the one thing that just didn't work entirely for me was the flow of the book. It's not like it didn't flow at all or anything, it was just that there were times when I was slightly confuse about what was actually going on. Like Parker and Chris's relationship and the ambiguity there, or Parker and Becky. I guess, though, that this could've been down to the fact that they just weren't doing what I thought that they would do. Like, they were stereotypes in a way, but on the other hand, they completely weren't? That's the best was I can word it.
Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked Cracked Up To Be, and by how much I enjoyed Parker's voice. I am very much looking forward to reading Courtney Summers's other books to see what they're like, too, and I think that she's pretty outstanding already just going off of this one.