Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

51Robd8huQLTitle: Cracked Up To Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Pages: 214
Year: 2008
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan)
Time taken to read: 1.5 days
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsisWhen “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 conselors 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.

I did not expect to like this book. I expected a cheesy, cliché, overdone high school drama with a whiny and privileged main character with an obvious love interest and a predictable happy ending. That is not what this book is. It looks like it a little bit at the beginning, but it surprised me. This is one of those books that does the slow reveal of the dramatic event that caused all the problems going on in the actual story. Even though my favorite book ever is one of those, lately I’ve been feeling like I’m a little over it and I want more big events actually happening during the story. Still, this book did it really well because it wasn’t predictable at all. I did not have much of an idea of what the event could be until the very end. I was doing the thing where I was putting my hand over what I haven’t read yet so I wouldn’t accidentally spoil anything for myself, and that’s how I know I care about a story. Also, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I got the tiniest bit teary at the end. I don’t even know why. I think that Parker was just in so much pain that I started to feel it too.

I thought that all the characters had an amount of likability in them, even though Parker was pretty annoying at first. Becky was probably my favorite, actually, and I can’t even really say why. I would have liked to have heard a lot more about Jessie, though. She turned out to be a lot more central to the plot than I thought, which didn’t really add up for me. I cared less about her and the ending surrounding her than I should have because we didn’t learn a lot about her. I didn’t understand what she meant to Parker exactly. I got no view into their friendship. I think Parker says they were best friends, but there were no flashbacks or memories that explained that to me, and I think I really needed that for this book to completely come together for me.

I wish that I could personally thank the author for not doing the obvious happy ending thing with Parker and Jake. I won’t spoil it exactly because it isn’t necessary, but it wasn’t what you’d think it would be, and I was thrilled. On the other hand, I would also like to personally shout at the author for not using my favorite punctuation mark, the Oxford comma. I also think I missed the significance of the title, which is always something that I look for, and I am disappointed when I don’t find it. Overall, I think the emotion in this book is very strong, and it’s a great contribution to YA literature.

  1. I read this novel years ago and I really liked it. Courtney Summers is now one on my top of the list authors.

    • Also I think, the title has something to do with either Parker not living up to what was previously expected of her – to be “perfect” or her life, as she sees it. Like, she realizes her life is not as good as others think of her life is.

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