Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
Genre: Realistic/Contemporary Fiction, GLBT
Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9 and up
Audiobook: Read by Aya Cash, Heather Lind, Aaron Tveit, and Tristan Wilds
Ellen Hopkins remembers the first poem she had published when she was nine years old. Every since then, Hopkins was writing. She graduated from high school and went on to college to major in journalism. She ended up dropping out in order to start a family. Hopkins started writing juvenile nonfiction books before her first young adult novel was published. Hopkins has written several young adult books as well as a new adult novel. She lives in Nevada with her husband. Information retrieved from Ellen Hopkins’s website.
The lives of four teens intersect as they each deal with their own struggles with perfection.
The story of Perfect can easily be divided into four sections for each of the teens. Each teen is trying to come to terms with an issue whether is a positive or negative change. Some of the stories weave in and out of one another. The first story to tell is Cara’s story. Cara’s twin brother, Connor, tried to commit suicide recently but was discovered and saved. Now he is living in a rehab facility to try to overcome his suicidal tendencies. Cara’s brother was the golden children. Cara knows she will never live up to her brother in her parents’ eyes. She is, however, dating Sean, the star of the baseball team. Sean needs to get a scholarship for college and won’t stop at anything to achieve it. He starts taking more serious steroids in order to continue to be the best. The steroids begin to affect him negatively and he loses control with Cara. Cara seeks solace in a girl named Dani and begins to question her sexuality.
Kendra used to date Connor, Cara’s brother, but he broke up with her. Kendra is not determined to be the perfect girl. She will do whatever is necessary to get the perfect body including starving herself and getting a nose job. Andre is the son of Kendra’s plastic surgeon and begins to date her sister Jenna. Jenna proves to be more than Andre can handle as she always needs a drink and flirts with every guy around. Jenna also uses Andre to get back at her father who refuses to accept her dating a black boy. Despite all of his relationship problems, Andre is trying to find a way to confess to his father that he does not want to go to college to be a doctor or lawyer, but would rather go to a school for dance.
This is the first Hopkins book that I’ve ever read. Her books are so popular at my library that they tend to walk away. Perfect is a companion to her book Impulse, which tells the story of Cara’s brother Connor is Aspen Springs. I did not read Impulse and had no problem following this book. Hopkins has an amazing talent. She weaves the four stories together flawlessly. It’s interesting to note that each person does not realize what the other person is dealing with, despite being so closely connected. While it may be slightly unrealistic that each person would have such a detrimental issue to overcome, it is a reminder that while we are struggling with our own problems, the person who appears to have it all together might be dealing with something as well.
I listened to this novel on audiobook rather than reading the hard copy. The main reason I chose to do this is the fact that I do not like to read novels in verse. I find them too distracting and disjointed. This is also the reason why I haven’t read a Hopkins book up until this point. Listening to the book was so fluid that I forgot that the book was even written in verse. Perfect has four different narrators, one for each character. It was easy to follow the story as the narrators had very distinct voices. I would highly recommend the audio version of the book.
- Briefly introduce the four characters. The issues they are dealing with are shocking and will get the attention of the room.
- Controversial Topics: GBLT relationships, rape, teen plastic surgery, racism, eating disorders
– Familiarize yourself with the library’s policy so that you can defend the initial purchasing
– Read the book to familiarize yourself with the material. The topics mentioned above need to be understood in the context of the story.
– Libraries provide ideas and information across the spectrum of social and political views.
(Information received from ALA’s Using the Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials webpage)
Why This Book?
Hopkins writes about issues that teens may be experiencing. This book in particular has issues that are more commonplace than her other titles that involve heroin abuse and prostitution. Also, the novel in verse format is great for reluctant readers.
Hopkins, E. (2012). Bio. Retrieved from http://ellenhopkins.com/YoungAdult/bio/.