Release date: December, 2008
What's the worst thing you've ever done?
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 counselors 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.
Review: Powerful and raw, Cracked Up To Be is one of the most realistic novels I've read in some time.
Parker Fadley is one of those characters you want to hate. She's sarcastic, blunt, and a bit cold in her attempts to alienate herself from everyone else...but it's almost impossible to hate her. In fact, it was refreshing to have a narrator that wasn't perfect, that isn't one of those shy-weak-insert adjective here-but-transforms-into-butterfly girls. Parker is the freaking butterfly, but she's got some broken wings. Her memories from the night that haunts her show up interspersed here and there, in an almost Laurie Halse Anderson fashion.
But just as a warning, there is cussing, drinking, et cetera. As long as you're the type of reader who doesn't mind, then it won't be a problem.
If you want to read a novel that will tug at your heartstrings, make you laugh, and gasp with surprise, then read Cracked Up To Be.
Highlights: The realism was a major plus, because at times it felt like I was reading something personal to somebody. Parker was a major highlight because she's so different, so broken, and did things I would morally question, but I still liked her. The girl has flaws, and it was nice to see in comparison to the usual set of narrators (nothing against those usual narrators, but it is nice to see a variety of personalities, especially one like Parker's).
Lowlights: There are some slow points, but then the story would pull me back in. I also thought it was a bit weird how drawn Jake was to her, considering she's not exactly nice to him. But the relationship they have was fun to watch develop.