Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

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Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney SummersCracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on December 23rd 2008
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Buy on Amazon

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 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.

Already being a big fan of Courtney Summers since I read This Is Not a Test, I knew before going into this that it was going to be a ride with a lot of feels! So much feels!

Parker is the definition of a snarky bitch. She has an attitude you want to slap her for, but as a protagonist she’s especially amusing and definitely entertaining. The used-to-be cheerleading captain turned angry emo tells us that something has happened to this girl to change her so drastically. This “something” is told to us via strange behavior from Parker which seem insignificant at first, but as the book progresses the feeling gets more urgent, and is mixed with flashbacks that leaves us wondering what the heck exactly happened here. These flashbacks gets longer at each telling; every time she remembers, she gets thrown a little deeper into this blocked memory that, in the end, weaves itself together into an emotionally distressing story. We don’t get to fully understand the reason behind her intense attitude until the very end. Still, you know something happened; you know she did not choose to be this way, something broke her, made her bitter. For this reason I found it easy to look past her bitchiness and feel bad for whatever it is that she is going through. It also helps that Courtney has a way of creating genuine characters. Characters that are easy to sympathize with no matter their outward personality, because it’s clear this crappy attitude is only a front, something Parker is hiding behind.

I already feel like I summed up this whole book in that mere paragraph. It’s a fairly short read and while the plot is compelling from start to finish with amazing characters, energy, and the feels, it’s hard to get into the thick of it since it consists of layer after layer of answers that eventually come full circle for the big reveal. By far, the best part of the novel is Parker herself. Full of attitude and energy, she tells us this story in the best way she can: amidst snark and outbursts. She hardly remembers what happened herself, though she’s slowly regaining her memory of this horrific event that we’re in the midst of discovering alongside her. When we do finally get the whole story, I did have to go over the reveal a couple of times to get everything straight. Some of the details come out a little fuzzy at the end. This is likely due to the same memory being repeated throughout the book which ultimately connects under different circumstances than we first had imagined. We’re left to mold these memories to fit a tragic event that once seemed innocent; it changes our perspective of it all. Moving on to the ending itself, I thought it was memorable, realistic, and we come to understand Parker completely. However, I did find the romantic aspect’s conclusion a tad underwhelming. I expected something… different, and was more than disappointed by the unfair finality of it all. Call me a romantic at heart?

Cracked Up to Be is an emotional foray into the gritty reality that is PTSD. Parker is not here for you to like her; her arrogant personality and unabashed attitude is a way out, out of the guilt that is almost literally eating her alive. Like This Is Not a Test, this one is for the fans of sharp and unapologetic contemps! And if you love audiobooks, the narrator nailed Parker’s voice!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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31 Responses to “Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers”

  1. Amy

    Ohhh I will have to check out this audiobook! I’m still not done listening to Ask the Passengers and I am getting Clockwork Princess for review this week and another audiobook for review next week so it will probably be a while though. Great review babe!!

  2. Nick

    It’s interesting that she was made to have an attitude on purpose. I usually have a hard time connecting with such characters, but if I go into the book going expecting her to be bitchy, maybe I could tolerate her. I’m curious about what made her that way and I’m sure it’s something huge.
    Great review, Giselle!

  3. Megan K.

    Courtney Summers is really something, isn’t she? To be honest, this book wouldn’t have caught my eye had I not seen the words ‘Courtney Summers’ at the bottom of the cover, so I might give this one a go, since it sounds like I’d be in for a very emotional ride! Parker sounds so out-of-the-ordinary that I don’t think I’d mind that she’s arrogant and totally unlikable. 🙂

    Lovely review as always, Giselle! I’ll check this out soon.

  4. Maggie

    I’ve wanted to read this since I read and loved This is Not a Test, but my library doesn’t own it and I’ve been too lazy/cheap to buy it. But I actually ordered it the other day and I’m really excited to read it, especially after reading your review!

  5. Bailey

    This is the first book I ever read by Courtney Summers. It was a while ago and I don’t really remember everything that happened but I do remember it wasn’t one of my favorites but I did like it. Great review! I’m going to have to reread this one sometime soon. 🙂

  6. Kristilyn (Reading In Winter)

    I’m glad you liked this one! This was the first Courtney Summers book I read and I loved it. And I love that cover, too! I think the audiobook would be great to listen to … might have to try that for another one of her books!

    Great review!

  7. Kris Chen

    This sounds like an epic fun read. I haven’t read This is Not a Test, but I’ve heard a lot about it. I’m adding both of Courtney’s books to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  8. Alexa Y.

    Whoa. This book sounds pretty darn intense. I have yet to read something by Courtney Summers, but between this and This is Not a Test, I must say that I’m intrigued. I think I may start with this one though, because I really am curious about what’s going on in Parker’s head.

  9. Kat Balcombe

    Yeah, I am so glad you enjoyed this one! Parker is such a well-written character in that she is a complete bitch and yet still likable – that Ms. Summers has got some talent.

    Great review – it was an intense read, and I almost wish I’d done the audio version instead!

  10. Soma Rostam

    Well, Giselle,I have to disagree with you here
    i am a huge fan of the author because of This Is Not a Test but i read This is not a test after reading Cracked up To Be, so it was a pleasant surprise
    I didn’t like Cracked up To Be. I hated Parker, she confused me and I didn’t connect with her.
    But towards the end, she became a little like-able but the end destroyed my whole experience with the book
    I still don’t understand what happened
    So many loose endings
    Anyway, great review, as always
    Your reader,

  11. Camille Picott

    I loved This is Not a Test! I am not much for contemporary stories (unless it’s at the movies) but she’s such a good writer that I might have to make an exception. Glad you liked this one!

  12. Molli Moran

    I’ve only read TINAT but I’ve been meaning to read Courtney’s other books. This one sounds really intriguing, especially since Parker can’t recall things, and I like that we get the real story over the course of the book. I will have to keep an eye out for this one, maybe on sale somewhere! Nice review – as always, Giselle!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  13. Evie Seo

    I’m a huge fan of Courtney’s, too! Definitely love her books – they do have so many feels in them! 🙂 eeek, very excited for this one, I can’t wait to pick it up! great review, Giselle!

  14. Cindy

    I just read another review on this one, and like you, they gave it four stars! That definitely has to mean something 🙂 I am really intrigued by the main character, Parker, and I think I would like her a lot. I haven’t read any of Summers books but I plan to soon, and I will definitely try to give this one a shot in the near future. Great review 🙂

  15. Renae M.

    Hah, my review for this book was posted today as well! (Unconscious synchronization!!)

    I totally agree that Parker was fantastic. And like any Courtney Summer’s protagonist, it was easy to like her in spite of her unlikableness, because—as you said—we know it’s just a front for the pain she has beneath her exterior.

  16. Candace

    It would definitely keep me reading wanting to know what happened to make her this particular way. I have read one book by Courtney and really enjoyed it. I’m glad this one was a winner too!

  17. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Oh, wow. This sounds really interesting and different than anything I’ve read recently. Sounds like the MC is seriously acerbic but that it’s more than worth it to hang in there if for nothing else than to figure out what happened to her.

  18. Christianna Marks

    This one sounds really really good! I had only heard of This Is Not A Test from this author, but this book sounds amazing too! I guess I need to dig into some of her books soon!

  19. Amanda

    I also loved This is Not a Test and I’ve been curious to read some of Summers’ other works. It sounds like her talent definitely lies in creating realistic, mentally and emotionally messed up teenage girls. The whole revealing Parker’s past through layering flashbacks sounds intriguing. I’m glad that enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely have to keep it in mind when I want to read more Summers.

  20. Jesse Burgoyne

    I’ve been totally in love with Summers’ writing ever since I read Some Girls Are a few years ago. Then after reading This Is Not A Test I decided I needed to read everything by her. But for whatever reason I still haven’t gotten to this book. It definitely sounds like I need to go buy a copy immediately!

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  21. Aylee

    So much feels!!! Haha, I really need to introduce myself to Courtney Summers’ books at some point. Because I’m all for emotion and genuine characters! Normally, I think I’d hate a character like Parker, but you’re really selling this for me – maybe I would come to appreciate her character, faults and all! This was such a great review, Giselle!

  22. Lauren

    This sounds like an another excellent Courtney Summers read! I”ve been reading so many books that are heavy on the feels lately, so I might give myself a few light breather books as a buffer before starting this one, but now I really want to read this. I love layered stories where the truth gradually reveals itself, especially if the character’s voice is interesting. I think I am going to like Parker’s snark. Wonderful review! 🙂

  23. Michelle

    Love your thoughts on this book! Courtney Summers is one of my fav authors. Some Girls Are was my favorite, have you read that yet? WIth this one i felt a little confused by the big reveal… I had to read it probably 3 times to figure it out (and I’m still not sure I am 100% on what happened). As for the ending… I don’t think Courtney Summers will ever give an ending that leaves you satisfied. It’s part of her charm.