Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: 12/23/08
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Blurb (GR): Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody—be totally alone—then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.
Parker Fadley used to be head cheerleader. She had perfect grades and a perfect boyfriend. Fast forward a few months and she is drinking heavily, treating everybody like crap (though this hasn’t changed much), broken up with her boyfriend, and missing every single homework deadline. What happened to cause her decline?
When I was in high school, I had to wear a uniform. Since it was an all-girls Catholic school, my morning went something like this:
6:00—alarm goes off. Snooze.
6:15—alarm goes off. Snooze.
6:30—alarm goes off. Snooze
6:45—roll out of bed wearing t-shirt and boxers. Put on socks. Pick up polo shirt, kilt, and clogs from floor. Brush teeth.
7:00-7:30—drive to school. Eat granola bar. In school parking lot, put polo and kilt on over pajamas.
Proceed with day.
This is funny to me because Parker’s hungover/total mess description basically aligns with my every day of high school look. I don’t remember brushing my hair for four years. But, thankfully, I wasn’t such a psychological mess. The narrative in this book basically follows Parker in the present day but snippets of the night “it” happened are interspersed in the text until it all unravels. I found this both intriguing and annoying; the latter because the night kept building up little by little but what we already knew was repeated. (x, then x and y, then x and y and z) By the end, I was practically shouting at the book, “I GET IT! I KNOW XYZABCDEFGHI happened. Just frakking tell me already!” (though I already had it figured out)
But you’ll notice that I gave this one four stars. I love Courtney Summers’ writing style. She writes the horrifically mean girl like no one else. (more prominently in Some Girls Are) Her characters are realistically flawed and you can almost smell the desperation that drips off of nearly every one of them, whether they are desperate for friendship, love, or forgiveness for missteps. This book isn’t for everyone for that reason—it is a frustrating read because you see all of these characters trying to help Parker find what she is looking for and she walks all over them and manipulates their feelings. I don’t know if I could have the patience for her that several of her peers did, especially considering I didn’t have much patience for her as a reader.
The “love triangle” (if you can call it that) in this book was a little bizarre. Parker’s ex-boyfriend Chris is still in love with her and will basically do anything for her. The more-like-a-love-square is filled out with Parker, Chris’s new girlfriend who is Parker’s frenemy, and new guy Jake, who is attempting to get Parker to open up about what happened. Flash! Bang! Drama! Anyway, Courtney Summers lovers will find the same old awesome in this one: gritty topic, beautiful writing, a bitchity main girl, and a lightning fast read.
Shoutout to Cory, who interviewed Courtney Summers last week at The Book Lantern.