Book Review—Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Cracked Up to Be
by Courtney Summers
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009
224 pp., paperback, $10.95 (Cdn.)
Recommended for Ages 15+
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.
(back cover copy)
The restful cover of Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers, contrasts starkly to the extreme unrest and turmoil of the book’s protagonist, Parker Fadley. Parker used to be perfect. She had perfect looks, perfect grades, a perfect boyfriend, and a perfect future ahead of her. But then, her life took a radical one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn. She started showing up at school drunk, failed most of her classes, quit the cheerleading squad, dumped her boyfriend, and generally made life as difficult for herself as she possibly could. Perfect Parker Fadley became a perfect mess.
Why has Parker turned away from everything and everyone? She doesn’t want to talk about it. She just wants to be left alone. But you don’t make such a spectacular fall from grace without people asking questions. She’s resolved to pull herself together just enough to get everyone off her back. But she can’t shake the crippling panic attacks or the overwhelming guilt she feels. The terrible secret she’s keeping haunts her every waking and sleeping moment.
Cracked Up to Be is intense and darkly fascinating. Summers mixes the present with mysterious flashbacks to the past, as Parker slowly lets herself remember the events that led to her downfall. Parker is an extraordinary protagonist—tough yet tender, oscillating between self-loathing and a desperate need to be loved and accepted.
A powerful and unforgettable novel for older teens.
Highly Recommended. 5p (YOYA).