Reviewed June 19, 2009.
SimonPulse, New York, 2008. 282 pages.
After reading The Breakup Bible one night, I read Perfect You the next night. (And, yes, both absorbed me enough that I read them well into the night.) Both are among Fairfax County Public Library's Summer Reading Program selections. Both involve teen relationships, and both were oddly applicable and comforting to someone going through a midlife divorce.
In The Breakup Bible, a teen deals with the loss of her boyfriend and doesn't handle it terribly well. In Perfect You, a teen deals with the loss of her long-time best friend, and also has a hard time coping.
In both, the main character had to learn to stop obsessing about the past and focus instead on good things happening without the once-loved one there. In both, they had to learn to actually live their lives now. To choose to be happy.
Meanwhile, I love the absolutely horrendous parents that Elizabeth Scott puts into her novels. If you ever thought your parents were embarrassing, listen to the opening of Perfect You:
Vitamins had ruined my life.
Not that there was much left to ruin, but still.
I know blaming vitamins for my horrible life sounds strange. After all, vitamins are supposed to keep people healthy. Also, they're inanimate objects. But thanks to them I was stuck in the Jackson Center Mall watching my father run around in a bee costume.
I sank into the chair by our cash register as Dad walked up to two women. They looked around when he started talking, searching for a way out. They wouldn't find one. In our section of the mall, there wasn't much around, which was how we could afford our booth.
I watched the women smile and step away, an almost dance I'd seen plenty over the few days I'd worked here. After they left, Dad came over to me, grinning, and said, "Kate, I think I made a sale! Those two women I talked to said they'd tell their husbands about the reformulated B Buzz! tablets. Isn't that great? Now I think I'll fly -- get it? -- down to the department store and see if I can give samples to people as they walk out."
Kate's Sophomore year is going badly. She lost her best friend, who suddenly changed from a fat girl to one of the popular crowd. Her Dad quit his job to sell vitamins. And she finds herself attracted to a guy with a bad reputation whom she doesn't even like. Or does she?
Perfect You is a fun and entertaining read, with a surprising amount of wisdom. I'd been missing my husband of twenty years, who was once my best friend, and reading about someone else coping with a lost best friend was surprisingly therapeutic.
As Kate says,
But things change. Stuff happens. And you know what? Life goes on. In fact, that's what life is. Who'd have thought Grandma would be right about anything, much less something so important?