YA Contemporary

ARC REVIEW: Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

ISBN: 0008110697 Title: Pushing Perfect Author: Michelle Falkoff Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Expected Release Date: October 25, 2016 Format: eARC Number of Pages: 224 Genre: YA Contemporary

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A girl’s quest for perfection results in dangerous consequences in this layered, suspenseful YA novel by the author of Playlist for the Dead.

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. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes.

But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.

This dark, emotionally resonant contemporary YA novel is perfect for fans of We Were Liars and The Secret History.

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All this pushing for perfection is damaging, you know.

The story started with this line:

During the summer between eighth and ninth grade, I turned into a monster.

This line, this specific line, really made me felt so excited to dive in this book. I immediately wanted to flip its pages and figure out what she was talking about. Because that was so intriguing, right? Well, it turned out that that was just all because of a zit. Yes. Kara Winter, the so-called “Perfect Kara” is now imperfect because of a zit. And that’s where everything started.

The story is written on Kara Winter’s point of view. Pushing Perfect is a story of different relationships such as friendship, parents-daughter relationship, student-teacher relationship and more, but most importantly, it is also a story which shows how trust and honesty are really important.

The very first chapter really got me so disappointed. The main character is a negative thinker plus the way she handle things is so bad. And not also Kara, but her so-called best friends from middle grade and parents are also the problem. Because of them, the story had turned into a tangle of misunderstandings which really made my head hurt.

I was just happy not to look like myself, now that looking like myself had become so scary.

Kara is definitely one of the most annoying main characters I’ve ever seen. Kara had a hard time dealing with all these pressures that her parents, her friends and her own self are giving her. Kara Winter definitely made me want to roll my eyes and face palm almost every freaking time. She is so insecure and all that matters to her is what people will say, given that her friends and schoolmates knows her for being the “Perfect Kara”. The only thing – I think – is good about her is she is so smart and a very good and obedient daughter.

What really appeals to me in this story was the sudden touch of mystery. I loved that from a “middle grade besties separated on highschool” drama it turned out to be a mystery. It isn’t actually that hard to figure out but the journey they had will make you doubt if the puzzle was really that easy or not. The journey they took while figuring things out and putting the pieces together were actually the very source of entertainment in this book. I am actually glad that Pushing Perfect didn’t turned out to be like what I had truly expected because I really thought at the very start that I’ll not enjoy this given that I really don’t like most of the characters. If it wasn’t for the touch of mystery, I think the highest rating I could give for this book is 2 out of 5.

Aside from the mystery, I also liked the pacing. That was so smooth.

The end was a bit rushed and definitely not that satisfying but I can say that it’s already OKAY. The agreement between Kara, the other victims and Blocked Sender was so rushed. And we didn’t get to know if what will really happen. It’s not enough. We need to at least know whether the Block Sender will do what they had agreed or not. I really expected more, because it has to be more. But despite of the lack of details about the end of their quest, we still saw that Kara finally learned her lessons. And that’s what’s the most important. Kara learned. She learned a lot about trust and being honest, which I am really glad to happen, because if it did not, I don’t know what will I feel about this book anymore. So the ending is okay because of the lessons learned.

Overall, there’s nothing much to expect in this book except for the mystery side. The main character is too anxious and negative to the point that you’ll be just exhausted and irritated. This is definitely not a great rep for people with anxiety because in this case, it was just really driven by her desire to maintain her image of “perfect Kara” at that’s so annoying. It’s just really NOT A GOOD REP. Though there are still a lot of lessons learned in this book, which is definitely a great thing. And the mystery is a good thing Pushing Perfect has. Some clues will lead you to wrong conclusions so be ware.

The title really made sense because Kara was always pushed to be perfect by herself and by her parents without them noticing. Pushing Perfect is a story that will show that pushing for perfection isn’t good because there’s no thing such as perfect. All you have to do is to push for the right direction.

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4656583.jpgMichelle 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.

Find her on:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Amazon  |  Kobo

Thank you very much HarperCollins International for providing me an eARC in exchange of an honest book review.

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