I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
Published by HarperTeen on February 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
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Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.
But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?
Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either.
I almost stopped reading this book because I didn’t really like the MC very much. I am glad I continued it though because it really was a good book. I still never really liked Juliet much, but I thought that the story itself was well done and loved the subject matter that it covered. You know when you look at someone who is pretty, smart, has a perfect looking life and family? Well, who is to say that their life isn’t completely fucked up? That is what this story is about and that is why I enjoyed it. I don’t agree with some of the things that Juliet did, but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t think this was a really well told story, that holds a lot of important topics and situations. Anyways, before I go on sounding like a PSA about issues and all, I should get on with the review.
Juliet seems to have the perfect life. Her family lives in a nice house, she has been with her perfect boyfriend (who also has a perfect family) for four years, she is most likely going to get into Harvard, I mean the list goes on and on. But, what happens when her dad walks out, she bombs her SAT’s, and her mother falls apart? She still seems like the perfect girl from the outside, but really, she feels like her life is falling apart. Jason leaves to go on vacation with his family, and while he is gone things fall apart more for her. She doesn’t know what to do, and doesn’t know if she is okay. She ends up cheating on Jason in what she calls a moment of insanity. Cheating always bothers me, so that made me really not like her. What was worse though, is she did feel sorry about it, but kept wanting Declan. Yes, she makes some mistakes, but most of all, she starts to learn who she really is. Not what people want her to be or expect her to be. I didn’t like her character so much as I liked the growth that she had.
Of course we have a sort of love triangle in the story if you couldn’t guess by the whole cheating thing. It’s not really a love triangle though. Yes, Juliet does love Jason. They’ve been together for four years. They know each other well. In a moment of weakness and wanting to just forget all her pain and everything going on in her life, she cheats on Jason with Declan, who she has just met. She doesn’t think she will see him again until her ends up going to her school. She is obviously attracted to him, but more than that, she really gets along with the band and his family. He sees the real her even if she doesn’t. I don’t like the whole cheating thing, but I did like that Declan wanted Juliet to be herself, where Jason wanted her to be who she is expected to be and doesn’t understand when she does things different. I didn’t find Jason to be very understanding and he would get mad or say she was doing something that wasn’t “her”. Yes, he was nice and he loves her, but I think he more loved the idea of what they were and what they would be. Some perfect couple who would always be almost perfect in almost anything they did.
It’s been a while since I have been in high school, but I remember that it’s tough. It’s hard to be yourself and not who you are expected to be sometimes. I couldn’t imagine being from the picture perfect family and having that additional pressure along with being expected to get into Harvard. It’s easy to look at someone and judge them, but you may know nothing about them. You don’t know if someone in their family is suffering from a mental illness, or if their family is falling apart. People see what they want to and don’t always want to accept other things. Sometimes even the closest friends don’t understand why you might change something that you’ve always done. I loved seeing the changes that Juliet went through. She was going through such a tough time dealing with all of those issues mentioned above, but she was strong for the most part and she broke out of the perfect everyone thought of her, and found her own type of perfect. I think this was a great book. I am so glad that I didn’t put this book down and decided to keep going because I really ended up liking it and think that it’s a perfect book for teenagers and adults to read.
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