04 February 2013

Review: Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Published: 23 December 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 214 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Realistic fiction

Source: Own

Synopsis

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

My Thoughts

My first Courtney Summers book was This Is Not a Test, which I loved (and read!) in 2012.  I'm not the biggest contemporary YA fan, but I really enjoyed her writing style, no-nonense and intense, so I thought I would give her first book, Cracked Up To Be, a whirl.

Let me be completely honest, Parker is not a likable character from the moment that she slouches her way into the book.  Shes rude, abrasive and really doesn't seem to care about anything, although her smart-arse one liners almost made me laugh out loud at times.  Whether this was the intention of Ms. Summers or not, I really appreciated that although Parker has some issues, it's presented in a way that makes her not exactly endearing but not a complete and utter bitch.  Parker's interactions with her peers, the new boy, her parents and her teachers are all awkward and almost mean-girlish but the cleverness of the writing really pulls it back so that I felt sympathy towards her rather than antagonism.

The other characters play an integral part in Parker's story, but the real focus is on Parker herself.  Her parents are a little secondary to the story which is quite surprising considering what has happened to her recently, but it's not a complete absence, more that the focus is on her interactions with her former friends, ex-boyfriend and the new boy in school.  There's one particular relationship that had me a little confused - I couldn't figure out the back history of Parker and this particular person very clearly, so it could have benefited from a little further explanation.

There's not much I can say about the plot that the synopsis does without potential spoilers, but I didn't anticipate the ending at all - in fact it took me by surprise.

Cracked Up To Be is a fast, but intense read.  Ms. Summers tackles some pretty controversial issues, from suicide to alcohol abuse, but does so in a way that isn't condescending nor flippant, and it's the kind of book that's almost impossible to put down.

14 comments:

  1. Oh so happy to hear you liked it so much! I had my eye on this book for quite some time and given my recent contemporary phase, I'm definitely checking it out.
    Although, I must say I hate it when a character is so annoying.. On the other side, I might even like her the way you describe her with her snarky attitude:)

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    1. Her snarky attitude was absolutely perfect, and at the end it all made sense.

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  2. I like Contemporary and this book sounds like fun. I'm glad you like it. Parker not being very likeable sucks but I have faith in Summers writing. She is pretty talented. Great Review! :)

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    1. She's definitely talented - especially to take a really bristly character and write her in a way that convinced me she had a reason to be like that!

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  3. Sounds like a really good book!

    ^_^

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  4. Oh man, I need to read this one LIKE NOW! I freaking Love Courtney Summers and mostly for the reason you pointed out. She takes these unlikable characters and puts them in these serious head on situations and still manages to make me care and love the story. Some Girls Are was full of characters that I hated but I loved every page of that book.

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    1. I really need to get hold of Some Girls Are!

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  5. I've just recently started getting more into contemporary YA and, so far, I like what I've read. This sounds like one of those books that has you battling with your feelings for the protagonist and I like when an author can do that, it makes things feel more multi-faceted and real. I'm keen on figuring out exactly what happened to facilitate such a change in this girl!

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    1. I love contemporary YA that's really intense - I can't do the fluffy stuff!

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  6. This Is Not a Test was awesome I've been wanting to read this one too! And I'm totally ok with bitchy characters if they're meant to be bitchy--or when they are for a reason. Fucked up characters are the best! >.< I really have to get to this one soon I've only heard great things about it! Awesome review, love!

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    1. There's nothing like a good bitchy character!

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  7. This is the only Courtney Summers novel I haven't read, but from what you describe, this is right on par with her other books--controversial topics, unlikable protagonist, no nonsense writing style. Those are all things I love about Summers' writing, so it's great to hear that even with her debut novel she was consistent.

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    1. I need to read more of them, I really really like her style.

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