Better Than Perfect
Author: Melissa Kantor
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Source: egalley received from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 2.5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 really loved Maybe One Day
, another Melissa Kantor book that I read last year, so I was pretty excited for more. And while I did enjoy this book, it didn’t quite grip me like her last one did. This is a story about a girl who, from the outside, seems to have everything. But she doesn’t. She’s under an insane amount of pressure to get into Harvard, to get a perfect score on her SAT. So when Mom completely loses it, it’s just the icing on the cake.
I could definitely feel the pressure that Juliet was under and I felt bad for her. But at the same time, I think that Juliet was really unfair to both her parents, to her friends and to her boyfriend. Even to her boyfriend’s parents. The truth is, I really didn’t like Juliet. She made some horrible decisions in this book, and even though she was going through a lot, I don’t think that excused her behavior. And even though she did own up to some of her mistakes at the end, there was this huge glaring issue that was never resolved, that she never had to atone for and that made me mad.
Another issue I had was the family relationships between Juliet, her mother, her father and her brother. Family was a huge piece of this story with her parents splitting up and her mom losing it, but I felt like those relationships weren’t focused on as much as they should have been. I mean, we barely see Juliet’s mom during the entire book. And we see even less of her dad and brother. The only family member we really see is her Aunt Kathy and even her relationship with her seemed surface-level.
And then there was the ending. The story kind of felt like it just fell off the face of the Earth. I mean, I guess it was an okay ending, but it was pretty open and I have never been a fan of open endings. I want to know what’s next for Juliet and while we’re given hints here and there, we don’t really know for certain what her plan is and if she’s going to be okay.
But I did enjoy watching Juliet realize that what her parents and everyone around her wanted wasn’t necessarily what she wanted. I liked the music aspect that helped her realize that maybe Ivy League college right after high school and getting an A in Latin wasn’t what she wanted anymore. (Although I do think that her “talent” was kind of a fluke…I mean seriously, no vocal training and you’re just that good?)
I know this review sounds like I really didn’t like this book. Which isn’t entirely true. I didn’t not like it; I just expected more from it. After loving one of the author’s other books, I expected to love this. But I just didn’t connect to this story as much. I didn’t get all the feels. And some glaring issues I came across kind of left a sour taste in my mouth.
Have you read this one yet? What did you think about the big issue that Juliet never had to answer for?