Published by HarperCollins on October 25th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Friendship, Death & Dying, Romance, General
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A girl’s quest for perfection results in dangerous consequences in this smart, suspenseful YA novel by the author of Playlist for the Dead. Fans of We Were Liars and The Secret History will devour this layered, ensemble-cast novel, which will keep readers thinking—and guessing—until the final pages.
How far would you go to be perfect?
Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. Which is why she does something she never thought she’d do. Something risky—and illegal.
Before she knows it, Kara’s life veers wildly off its perfect course, and she’s thrown headlong into a world of new friends, wild parties, alluring romance, and dark secrets. She’s forced to confront how far she’s willing to go to be perfect—and in the end, if that’s something she really wants to be.
Pushing Perfect was such a good read, which kind of surprised me as I read Playlists for the Dead and wasn’t exactly in awe, but this one really had me gripped from beginning to end. I love novels about blackmail and this one was right up my street – along with Kara, I had no idea who was the one blackmailing them and the way it all came together was kind of perfect; I was completely baffled by who the blackmailer was – I had an inkling, but I was still stunned, because it was just so insane!
Kara was a great narrator, although it made me sad that she let her skin condition ruin so much of her life! I mean, tons of teens get spots, and I understand this was more than just a few spots, but it still seemed quite an extreme reaction that she did SCAM before she went anywhere, ever, and I’m starting to think she even slept in her make-up. She ruined her friendships, she stopped swimming and the Kara we meet after all of that, is very much a sad shell of who she used to be. So to see her become friends with Alex was great, because it helped her loneliness, and we got to see her come out of her shell again, although it led to all sorts of other problems!
I liked the idea of the drug and I liked how it all unravelled, although I still have one question – who took that first ever picture of Kara, hmmm? That was actually never answered and I am still super curious who it was. But the rest of it? Seeing Kara, Alex and Raj all scramble to wonder what to do, and while people might say why didn’t they tell their parents or the police, you could tell that they all had something to lose and weren’t willing to lose it, which I get. Also: you make stupid decisions when someone backs you into a corner, so I could understand some of their poorer decisions.
I really, really enjoyed Pushing Perfect. Michelle is a cracking writer, and she kept me hooked from start to finish, this is definitely a must-read, with a fantastic, never-see-coming ending.
Michelle Falkoff’s fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law.