Parker Fadley was, in a word, perfect. Head cheerleader, straight As, a basketball playing boyfriend, popular friends, a bright future: it seemed like she had it all. But that was the old Parker. The new Parker drinks at school, never does her homework, has broken up with her boyfriend, alienated all her friends, and is in danger of failing. There's also that rumour that she once tried to commit suicide. What no one understands is...why? What happened to change Parker so drastically?
The truth comes out slowly, both for the readers and for the characters in the novel. When the book opens, Parker is under the careful supervision of teachers and parents: she has a curfew, she sees the school guidance councellor once a week, and she's one slip-up away from not graduating. She's actively pushing everyone away: a former frenemy who now has Parker's old cheerleading captainship as well as her old boyfriend, the old boyfriend who is still in love with her, well-meaning but clueless parents, a new guy in town who wants to get to know her.
My favourite part of the book was how Courtney Summers depicted the relationship between Parker and her ex-boyfriend, Chris. It's strained, it's awkward, it's familiar. They're just transitioning from that weird period where you know all of these details about another person, you've been so close with another person, and then suddenly you're not close to them and there's a wall there...but you still know all that stuff. Combine that with the claustrophobia and hormones of high school, and it's a hard, strange situation. The rest of the characters were quite strong as well - original characters, not cliches. I was never really clear on why the new guy in town, Jake, is so insistent on getting to know Parker when she's nothing but terrible to him, but even so it's still believable within the story. Parker is her own mystery: what happened to this girl? What's her deal? I became intrigued by Parker and her story, so I guess it makes sense that Jake does, too.
By the time the end of the book rolled around, I was kind of relieved, simply because I wanted Parker to achieve some kind of peace and closure. At the same time, though, I was sad to let the book go. I'm really excited to read more by Courtney Summers. This book came to my attention because it's a finalist for the Cybils.
Find it at Amazon.
Read it with:
Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
I got this book: at my library.