Courtney Summers Cracked Up to Be
214 pp. St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan) 2009 ISBN: 978-0-312-38369-5
Summary (From the publisher): Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody–be totally alone–then everything will be okay…The problem is, nobody will let her.
Warning- there is going to be tons of gushing in this review. Tons. This is the first novel that Courtney Summers wrote, but I read her latest novel, Fall for Anything, first. I gushed in that review and loved that book. I knew I was going to enjoy the rest of her books as well, but I had no idea that I’d love them THIS MUCH. And the fact that this was her debut novel?! Wow. It’s absolutely brilliant and beautiful.
Cracked Up to Be had me hooked immediately. I started reading this late Friday night and stayed up until early Saturday morning so I could finish it. I had it read within hours and I don’t think I put it down once. Parker is a stand-out character that completely drew me in. She’s incredibly snarky and often blunt, but it’s a mask to hide how much she’s hurting. Something happened that’s changed her from “perfect Parker” to drinking and lying Parker. Her friends and family think they know why she’s upset, but no one knows what’s really haunting her. New guy, Jake, starts to crack her surface though. He’s relentless with his questions and wanting to know more about Parker, which she doesn’t know how to handle. This is when we begin to get pieces of the night things changed. And when the secret is revealed–whoa.
Parker’s reaction to what she’s dealing with is true to life. I have students at school struggling with different things and some of their reactions are the same. I don’t know of any drinking at school, but that’s not to say there aren’t students drinking at school. Grades dropping is usually the first thing to alert me when a student is in trouble. And Parker has a support system, but she doesn’t want their help. More than anything, she doesn’t want them to know what happened so she’s pushing everyone away. It’s heart-breaking watching her fall apart. Her relationship with Jake, though, opens up some room for hope. Even if you can’t relate to Parker, she’s so brutally honest you can’t help but want to reach out to her.
I can’t say enough good things about Courtney Summers as an author. She’s without a doubt become one of my favorite authors. Hopefully my girls in class will love her books as much as I do because Cracked Up to Be and Fall for Anything are worthwhile reads. I don’t think I’ll be able to wait much longer to read Some Girls Are, but I almost want to wait because then I won’t be waiting as long to read her new book (whenever that’s due to release). The writing is flawless, the story is touching, and the characters are layered. If you don’t read this one, go read one of her others. You won’t be disappointed.