Friday, November 5, 2010

Cracked Up To Be

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.
 



Reading Cracked Up To Be is like a whiplash. It's like a high school documentary. No moralizing, sugarcoating incidents and mincing words. Courtney Summers presents it like it is.

Parker is troubled, very, very troubled. And it all goes back to something horrible that's happened, for which Parker might be all too responsible. Parker is a character you won't forget as soon as you finish the book. She is someone who hooks you in, makes you turn the pages of this novel and stays with you long after you finish it. Her voice is THAT good.
And that's where Courtney Summers' debut novel sticks with you. With the character voices. Nothing about high school or high school-ers is romanticized here. The potential love interest(s) aren't knight-in-shining-armours. They are guys who can be jerks one moment and cute and kind the next moment, not walking-talking moral tales high on hotness.

The prose is sparse. No purple prose, a few words are enough to convey just what is meant to be conveyed. This style makes Summers' writing haunting and to some extent, disturbing, which is exactly what Parker's mental state is.

I already knew what the big secret was, thanks to a very spoiler-ish review I'd read online, but I couldn't stop reading Cracked Up To Be, firstly for Parker and secondly, for, well, everything else. The flashbacks are easy to connect with, considering they are done in italics, and Summers' masterfully connects them all together as a lead up to the climax.

The best thing about this book is how everything feels very natural. for instance, Parker's actions are not dominated by thought first. She does things on impulse. Sometimes a lot of the things she does or says doesn't make sense, but that's what makes her so intensely real.

The cover doesn't do much to capture the powerful content of this book. It deserved something more than a girl resting on the bench.

Cracked Up To Be did not do something as dramatic as change my life, but it's an important book. One the needs to be read. I hope you read it.


10 comments:

Karla Nellenbach said...

I haven't read it yet, but this has been on my TBR list FOREVER. Everytime I see it in the store, I say, "You're next book...you are next."

Angie said...

Totally agree with you on the voice. I hope my review wasn't the one with spoilers - I don't know it's been a while since i looked at it and I usually try to give warnings if I get too spoilery. I had a hard time understanding why Parker did what she did, but then by the end I got it. It wasn't as good as SGA, but it's definitely worth the read. Can't wait for her next one!!

Nomes said...

funky little review bee.

i kinda figured out the secret but i totally didn't care - i was just sucked in to the voice and parker in general.

x

Lucia said...

I really like finding the treasure YA books which stand out and this seems like one of them. Have you read 'Speak?' I haven't but it sounds similar.

Emilia Plater said...

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! *cough* and your review :D

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Jen Daiker said...

This book looks good! I am definitely adding this to my TBR list!

Jennie Bailey said...

You do GREAT book reviews!! And you keep adding to my TBR pile. Seriously. I think every book on my pile at the moment is a Bee reviewed book. You're THAT powerful in my life ;-). This one is getting pushed to the top, though. It sounds VERY good!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks for not spoiling this! You had me with your comparison to a documentary.

Too many--in my old curmudgeon's opinion--high school-set books are set in a super idealised high school or in a regular high school viewed through the rose-tinted lenses of one character's dream world. This one sounds much more worthwhile. =)

Thanks for the review, Bee!

Lydia Kang said...

Nice review! I'd seen this on the shelves but haven't picked it up. Now I probably will!

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