Perfect follows the lives of four high school seniors all on the relentless pursuit of perfection. Each teenager defines the word differently, so they each take different paths in order to achieve their goal. Their connection may not seem evident because they are not necessarily friends. Their connection, however, is found through their avoidance of failure: the lengths they go to in order to satisfy unreasonable expectations.
Cara is the most well-rounded character, "perfect" in every sense of word. She is expected to stand out academically, athletically and in extracurricular activities with the aim to be accepted to Stanford. It is impossible to please her mother, her father is never home and her twin brother, Connor, is a patient at a psychiatric hospital for having attempted suicide. She does not feel close to any of her friends, and she is not in love with her boyfriend, Sean; she is only with him because he is convenient. Furthermore, throughout the novel, Cara has to accept her sexuality once she realizes she is not "straight". The pressure to admit this to herself is immense - because the label does not fit under "perfect". She feels like she cannot confide in anyone. She is unable to discuss this issue with her boyfriend or her parents. Sean finds out, and Cara is becomes a victim of cyber-bullying. When she finally comes out to herself and to her parents, Cara's brother succeeds in another suicide attempt. Just as Cara's life had been coming together, the end of the novel allows it to fall apart again.
Sean, Cara's boyfriend, is orphaned, left to live with his uncle after both his parents passed away. Sean is "buff", training hard to become a great baseball player so he can live up to his...
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...opics, but it was beautifully written. Ellen Hopkins really allowed her characters to shine through their flaws. They were relatable and realistic. She created many controversial scenarios - rape, drugs, cyber harassment, sexual assault, teen plastic surgeries, suicide - although she was smart about it. She was never critical, and she allowed readers to feel for the characters. Their pain was heart-wrenching, but never over-dramatic or annoying. I love the way that the whole book was written in free-verse, and could be read in two ways. It allowed for underlying ideas to be clarified. Ellen Hopkins' novel was raw and powerful. It was on my mind for days after I finished it and allowed to me to realize where the line between self-improvement and self-harm is drawn.
Hopkins, Ellen. Perfect. New York: Margaret K. McElderry, 2011. 622 pages. Print.
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