A contemporary YA novel about growing up and learning that loving yourself is more important than trying to be perfect.
AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check
Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan — and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes to a screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.
Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.
You know when you request for a book, thinking that it will be a cute contemporary romance, and then it turns out not to be that at all? Yeah… this one was such a good surprise!
I’ll start by saying that the way the story is told is quite unusual and it fit in great with the story. The first half of the book is kind of slow due to this, but the pace picks up from there. See, the context isn’t given right away. The bulk of the story is told in the first person, though Viviana’s POV, but each chapter introduction as a question, an advice or essay question, and sometimes those answers, given in essay form, are there to answer to what happened that lead to this point in time. I thought this was very cleverly done and I enjoyed it. Still, it is a bit weird, because you feel like you don’t quite have the whole picture for awhile, which is unusual when you’re reading a first person narration.
Contrary to what I thought originally, this book does not focus on the romance. Not at all. It focus on Viviana and how she manages to face all the adversity she has to face. I liked Vivi, I thought she was relatable, stuck at an age where all she ever wanted was to maker her parents proud, feeling that nothing was ever good enough for them, and then, all of a sudden, because of a normal/teen mistake, her life crumbles. Her stupid ex releasing her “nakie pics” is only the start of her problems… she’s bullied at school, she starts suffering from panic and anxiety attacks, her dad leaves, and no matter how much she tries to keep up her grades, everything still falls apart.
Because things were already hard enough, she ends up uncovering a huge lie from her dad, her sister wants her attention, and she meets a boy, that likes her, but her BFF is interested, so there’s no way. Also, she lost the ability to trust people… I know how that feels like, and it’s a tough thing to overcome.
As I said, she felt relatable and she read like her age! She was lost, didn’t know the right thing to do, was impulsive and a little weird sometimes, but it felt real, you know? She didn’t have any answer to her problems, but she ends up finding the only one she needs.
I really liked the rest of the characters too, especially her best friend Sammie. At first I thought that she would be a problem, and I was afraid that the book would rely heavily on the whole “2 bffs in love with the same guy” thing, but it didn’t. Yes, they fought, for several things, but Sammie was always there for Vivi… ALWAYS.
I liked that Evan, the love interest, ended up not having a huge importance in the plot, at least not in his role as love-interest. Instead he becomes a good friend, when that’s all that Viviana can do, and I loved that, that the romance was unassuming and slow, and open.
If there’s one thing I wish would have been a little more explained was her dad’s attitudes… See, being a good dad and being a good husband and person sometimes are not directly related. I wanted something more than what I got from him. I wanted a real talk, and I don’t think I got that.
I really liked this story of self discovery and acceptance. I wasn’t expecting this book to make me tear up, but it did. There are subtle things and messages that really got to me there, so I have to recommend this one.