February 17, 2015
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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.
Juliet Newman has always had a lot of things to do, from a childhood filed with piano, etc, etc lessons to now, a soon-to-be high school senior with AP classes, an SAT tutor and a packed class schedule. Juliet's schedule has always been full - and well organized by her mother.
Now, though, with her mother falling apart after her parent's divorce and then not around to plan, organize and assist Juliet's life, Juliet's not sure that what has always been is really working.
I liked Better Than Perfect's look at Juliet's 'perfect' life, its fall from perfection and her realization that it might not have actually been perfect. Or, if it was, perfect might not be what she wants. As the girl who's always done it all, who has her future planned and knows her goals - only to realize she's never actually thought about whether it's what she wants - Juliet was a very realistic character. It can be easy to fall into what is expected of you, what you've always been told to want and therefore believed you wanted.
While the events that throw everything into question may be more dramatic than most people are likely to experience, they do serve as a nice catalyst for the change in Juliet.
As the 'other' tempting guy in the story, I do wish we had seen more of Declan and who he was. It seemed like the entire life, the one so different from the course she was on, was what was temping to Juliet, not necessarily Declan himself. Though, it seemed it was supposed to be him. If the romance of Better Than Perfect had been just a bit more, a little more present, I could have loved the novel.
The changes in Juliet were done nicely. Some of them were quite dramatic, but seemed to fit with her feelings, with her indecision. It was also nice that indecision was there. She's always had her life planned, it's always been expected, but has she been happy? And does that really matter?
While I did wish for more with the romance and some of Juliet's relationships, what she experiences, the things she calls into question - including herself, or who she's always thought she was - and the decisions she makes made for an enjoyable novel.
(maybe more 3.75 . . .)
thank you to the publisher for the finished copy to review