Perfect Parker Fadley isn't so perfect anymore. She's quit the cheerleading squad, she's dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she's failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she's playing games…but what they don't know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn't something she can say out loud. It isn't even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody--be totally alone--then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|File size:||264 KB|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Courtney Summers is the author of young adult novels including Fall for Anything and Some Girls Are. She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she's not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.
Courtney Summers is the author of young adult novels including Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, and Cracked Up to Be. She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she's not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.
Read an Excerpt
Cracked Up to Be
By Courtney Summers
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Courtney Summers
All rights reserved.
Imagine four years.
Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings, spilled food, theft, fights, broken limbs, turf wars—every day, a turf war—six months until graduation and no one gets a medal when they get out. But everything you do here counts.
"No, seriously, Jules, just feel around in there and tell me if you have one—"
"Fuck off, Chris—"
"And tell me where it is, the exact location."
He reaches out and grabs me by the shoulder. I shrug, shrug, shrug him off.
"Fuck off, Chris."
He's been on about the G-spot for, like, a week.
"Don't fail me now, Parker. Where is it?"
"Cosmo, December '94. The Sex Issue. Came with a map and everything."
"Hell yes! I knew I could count on you." He points at me, grinning, and then the grin falters and he says, "Wait. You bullshitting me?"
I make him wait for the answer because I'm bullshitting him.
"Chris, I respect you too much to do that."
"That's so sweet. You look good today, Parker."
"You bullshitting me?"
"I respect you too much to do that."
I look like shit today for a variety of reasons, but let's start with the muddy running shoes on my feet. Running shoes are expressly forbidden to wear with the school uniform, but damned if I know where my dress shoes disappeared to between now and yesterday. And then there's my uniform skirt, which has a mustard stain on the front because I can't do something simple like make a sandwich for lunch without screwing it up. I plucked my rumpled polo shirt from my bedroom floor and I guess I could've brushed my hair if I'd wanted to forgo the bus ride and walk all ten miles to school, but supposedly if I miss any more classes I could maybe not graduate, and if I have to spend another year in this concrete block—
Principal Henley's got her arms crossed and her eyebrows up. I bring my hands together like I'm appealing to God. I might as well be.
"One day only, Mrs. Henley. See, I got up really late and I couldn't find my dress shoes and I was so worried about getting here on time—"
"And the hair—"
"Can be brushed," I say, smoothing my hand over the tangles.
"You're due at the guidance office in five minutes."
"Oh, joy," I say. Her eyes flash and I smile. "No, really."
Her eyebrows go down. It's good, but not as good as when I got away with everything. I elbow my way through a mass of people to get to my locker because there's something immensely satisfying about the toughest part of my arm connecting with the softest part of everyone else. A shapely embodiment of a female Satan appears on the horizon, flipping her long blond hair over her shoulder as she commands the attention of her many underlings. My former underlings.
"—I just bluffed my way through it," she's saying as I pass. "Hey, Parker?"
I half turn. "What?"
"Did you get that essay finished for Lerner?"
"That was due today?"
Becky stares at me.
"You only had the whole weekend."
I open my locker. "Why do you sound surprised?"
"Bet you fifty bucks you're fucked."
"You're on," I say. "I can do a lot with fifty bucks."
She laughs and heads wherever she's heading. Cheerleading practice, maybe. No. It's too early, and anyway, I don't care.
I grab my English binder and flip through it until I find the page with FRIDAY and HOMEWORK scrawled messily at the top but nothing underneath. Great. The bell rings. Guidance office.
I grab my brush, slam my locker shut and race against the flow of students heading to their respective homerooms. I reach the office while the bell's still ringing. I take a minute to catch my breath, stalling, because Ms. Grey would cream herself if she thought I actually made the effort to be on time and I don't like giving people false hope. I count to ten and run a brush through my hair. One. Two. Three. Ten. Again. A few minutes go by. A few more.
When I finally decide to enter the office, I'm still brushing my hair.
It's not meant to be insolent—it's not insolent—but the thing is, I can't stop. My hair looks fine, but I just stand there brushing it in front of Grey, who sits at her desk looking all devastated, like I'm mocking her somehow.
Sorry, I can't stop, I want to say, but I don't. I don't think I'm really sorry about it, either, but she should know this isn't some kind of slam at her for making my life a little more inconvenient than it already is. If it was, I'd be a lot more creative about it.
I sit down across from her and run the brush through my hair a few more times.
"You're late," she finally manages.
My hand relaxes. I lower the brush and rest it in my lap. Grey looks like a bird, a dead-eyed sparrow, and if I had her job, I'd want to kill myself. It's not like well-adjusted people ever come into the guidance office. You get either the crazy underachievers or the crazy overachievers and both come with their own depressing set of problems.
I don't know. I'd just want to kill myself if I was her, that's all.
"Yeah," I say. "So we'd better get on with it, huh?"
"Right." She clasps her hands together. "You already know this, but I think it bears repeating: no cutting, no missed days, no exceptions. You will complete your homework and you will hand it in when it's due. Off-campus lunch privileges are suspended until you can prove to us that you're trustworthy again and—"
"But what if I wake up one morning and I can't stop vomiting or I'm hemorrhaging or something? Do I still have to go to school?"
She blinks. "What?"
"What if I'm really sick? What do I do then?"
"A parent would have to call in for you. Otherwise you'll receive a warning—"
"Right." I nod and start chewing my thumbnail. "Okay."
She clears her throat.
"On Friday, you'll meet me here and we'll talk about any troubles you might have had throughout the week, the progress you've made both in and out of school, and—"
"But what if I miss some assignments, though? I've gone so long just not doing them, I think it's kind of unfair to expect me to get back on the ball right away. You know what I think, Ms. Grey? I think I should get a grace period."
She leans across the desk, her dead eyes showing a rare sign of life. It freaks me out so much I have to look away.
"This is your grace period, Parker."
Then I have to run all the way to homeroom. Mr. Bradley makes a point to glare at me when he marks down my attendance because they all must have gotten the Tough Love memo over the weekend. I pause at Chris's desk and tap my fingers along the wood until he looks up from the math homework he's scrambling to finish.
"Becky knows where it is."
He laughs. "Becky? You're talking to her now?"
"Yeah. About G-spots. At length. She's an expert."
"Okay." His pale blue eyes twinkle. "Send her up."
I wink at him and head to the desk at the back of the room, where Becky's alternately painting her nails and the cover of her binder with sparkly red polish. A nail here, a red heart there. I slide into the seat next to hers and I don't waste time.
"Chris wants you."
Her head whips up.
"Chris wants me?"
"Yeah. Go see."
She looks from me to him to me again, to him, to me, and she grins. Chris is popular, cute, all dimples. He wears his uniform shirt a size too small because it makes his muscles look bigger than they actually are and he's never wanted Becky before.
"Thanks," she whispers, standing.
She squares her shoulders and walks up the aisle as sexily she can, which is not very sexy at all. As soon as her back is to me, I grab her binder and flip through it, carefully avoiding the drying polish decorating the front. It's so beautifully organized, I find Lerner's essay before Becky even gets to Chris.
We were supposed to write about patriarchy and Beowulf. I had no idea we even read Beowulf, but I'm resigned to the fact I can't bullshit my way through this essay as effortlessly as Becky probably has, and since I'm pretty confident she can do it just as effortlessly again, I rip it from her binder.
It's my essay now.
"He's disgusting," Becky says when she comes back.
The funny thing is, she won't even notice the essay's missing until Lerner's class and even then she won't suspect me, because I may have done a lot of stupid things in the last year, but that doesn't mean I'm an essay thief. People are kind of stupid like that when they think you're tragic. You get away with a lot even after you're caught.
"You obviously like disgusting," I tell her.
She smiles this big blond smile.
"He asked me out, but I wanted to make sure it's okay with you first." Right.
"Screw him, Becky. I don't care."
"Becky, really. I don't want to hear it. You're dull."
She rolls her eyes. "For five seconds you almost seemed human."
"Five whole seconds, huh? That's an improvement. Tell Grey; she'll love that."
The bell rings and Becky lunges out of her seat. Chris waits for no one.
"Becky," I call after her. She turns. "I hope you have that fifty on you. I'll need it for after school."
I copy her essay during history, unnecessarily exerting myself with a little creative rewriting so it sounds authentically Parker.
After history, I run into the new kid.
The bell has rung, the halls are filtering out and when I spot him, this new kid, he's doing that confused stumble around the halls that makes it painfully obvious he has no idea where he is. He's got brown hair that sort of hangs into his brown eyes and I stare at him when I pass, because new kids generally can't handle eye contact and I find that amusing. He looks about eighteen and I bet his parents are assholes to do whatever it is they did that he had to transfer in the middle of senior year.
"Hey ... hey, you—girl!"
I turn slowly, debating. Do I make this easy on him or do I make it hard?
A good person would make it easy.
I decide to start with mocking and work my way up.
"Hey ... hey, you—New Kid!"
He takes it well.
"Uh, yeah. Hi," he says. "Maybe you could help me?"
"I'm late for class."
"That makes two of us." He smiles. "Of course, you have an advantage in that you probably know where class is. Could you tell me where Mr. Norton's room is?"
"Sorry, New Kid. Can't. I'm late."
"Oh, come on. You have time—"
"No. I have no time."
Pause, pause, pause. We stare at each other for a good minute.
"You're just standing there," he finally splutters. "How can you have time for that but not enough time to tell me how to get to Mr. Norton's room?"
I give him my most winning smile, shrug and resume the walk to my next class.
"Are they all like you around here?"
I wave over my shoulder, but I don't stop.
Norton says he's going to tell on me for being late. Henley and Grey will get the notice and I'll have to discuss it on Friday. Why were you late, Parker? What did you think that would accomplish, Parker? And then the tough question. What destructive behaviors were you engaging in for the five minutes you weren't in class, Parker?
I'm going to tell them I'm on the rag.
Anyway, I have two classes with Chris and this is one of them. We sit next to each other because his last name starts with E and mine starts with F. Ellory and Fadley, Winter Ball King and Queen three years running.
I can't stand being around him, but I fake it pretty well.
"You're late," Chris says. We're working with charcoal today. He passes me a pencil and a sheet of paper. "Where were you?"
"If I told you, I'd only disappoint you."
I start working on a charcoal blob. Abstract charcoal. Whatever. The black flakes off the pencil tip, making a nice mess of my fingers pretty quickly. Then I smudge until my masterpiece is ruined. I bet Norton will report that, too, like I didn't try, even though it's art, where no one should be able to tell if you're trying or not.
The stupid thing is, I like art. I mean, it's okay.
"Oh, Jesus yourself and take a joke," I tell him. "There's a new kid. He asked me directions. It took a couple minutes."
"Oh." He sounds relieved. "Hey, your hair looks nice all brushed like that."
"Took you long enough to notice. It was brushed in homeroom."
"I've got a date with Becky for Friday."
"Chris and Becky," I say thoughtfully. I try it again in Movie Announcer Voice: "Chris and Becky. Presenting Chris and Becky ..."
He stares. "What?"
"It doesn't sound right," I declare. "There's no ring to it."
"Yeah, well, you broke up with me."
"I know; I was there. And that has nothing to do with how stupid your names sound together." I try it again: "Chris, Becky, Becky, Chris ..."
He stares some more.
"Seriously, there's a new kid? You're not drunk?"
"No, I'm on the rag."
Enter New Kid. The door swings open and he's flushed and out of breath like he ran all the way here. Everyone gets quiet—fresh meat—and Norton harrumphs.
"Better late than never. Gardner, I presume?"
"Yes, sir," Gardner mumbles. "I got lost."
Gardner looks like he can't believe it. "I'm new."
"Thank you for that, Gardner. Take a seat over there, help yourself to some charcoal and paper and get to work." Norton's such a hard-ass. He reminds me of George C. Scott sometimes. "I expect you to be on time tomorrow."
"That's not the guy you gave directions to, is it?" Chris asks.
"I didn't say I gave him directions; I said he asked me for them."
"Christ, Parker, you're a real bitch sometimes."
Gardner skulks over to the table next to ours, sets up and starts drawing. I stare at him until he feels it and looks my way. His eyes widen and he points his charcoal pencil at me accusingly.
"You," he says. "You're in this class?"
I smile. "Hi. I'm Parker Fadley."
Chris reaches past me, extending his hand.
"Ignore her. I'm Chris Ellory. Welcome to St. Peter's."
"Thanks," Gardner says, looking relieved that they're not all like me around here. He and Chris shake hands. "Jake Gardner. Nice to meet you."
Now that I've heard his name, I'm doomed to remember it. Just more useless information taking up brain space that could be better served for more important things like ... stuff. Jake and Chris talk through art and discover they have so much in common it's amazing. Like, They Could Be Boyfriends If They Didn't Like Vaginas So Much Amazing.
By the time the period is over, my charcoal blob has eaten all the white space but for one solitary speck to the lower left side of my paper. When Norton does his rounds, he leans over my shoulder and, in his best George C. Scott, says, "I like it." Then he glances at Chris's halfhearted elm and goes, "It's always trees with you! How many times do I have to tell you to think outside the tree, Ellory?" And I laugh so hard I cry a little.
Then the bell goes off again. The bell goes off too much.
We eke our way out of the room and Chris turns to Jake and says, "We're gonna check out the fast-food strip for lunch. Wanna come?" "Sure," Jake says.
"How about it, Parker?" Chris asks me. Then he brings his hands to his mouth in mock horror. "Oops, forgot. You're not allowed off grounds for lunch anymore! Oh, snap."
I roll my eyes. "That wasn't a snap."
He says something else, but I don't hear it because I'm gone. I drop my things at my locker and search out a spot in school that isn't around people, but there are none and that's when I notice that the halls are way too crowded.
There are bodies everywhere.
At first I do okay. I hover by the drinking fountain and try to look like I've got somewhere to be. Then I start hearing this sound, like this sighing, no—not sighing. Breathing. Everyone breathing. I can hear the people around me sucking up all the fresh air, leaving nothing for me.
Excerpted from Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers. Copyright © 2009 Courtney Summers. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Parker Fadley was captain of the varsity cheerleading squad. She'd been on the honor roll for the first three years of high school, and Chris, the most popular guy at school, was in love with her, the most popular girl in school. Now, no matter how awful she is to him, she knows he still loves her, but she's not worth it.
Not since the party. Not since her life took a radical one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn.
Her parents have her on a tight leash. Early curfews. Weekly meetings with the guidance counselor. Dinners with sad, yet hopeful eyes turned her way, yearning for a glimpse of the Parker they used to know. Everyone has her on a suicide watch, but nobody knows why. What could have caused Parker Fadley to turn away from everything and everyone?
It's Jake who begins to get under her skin with his unnerving presence and constant questions. How can she possibly be that interesting to him? When Evan comes back to school, she can no longer keep the memories of the events of that night at bay. Whether she wants to or not, she's going to have to find the real Parker Fadley, or risk losing her forever.
The restful cover of CRACKED UP TO BE belies the unrest and turmoil that is Parker. The voice is incredible, similar to that of SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. Courtney Summers doles out the secrets in small portions, teasing the reader, and when the events of the party are finally revealed with nothing held back, the tension is palpable.
And no matter how many hints Ms. Summers drops, you'll never be able to guess Parker's terrible secret. This debut author is just that good.
Now, personally I read a lot and always find myself lost in books and their characters. Let's just say I've been depressed for a couple days now. This book is about a girl who knows something and has to carry this huge weight around with her everywhere... She wants to die. She tried once and, unfortnately, failed. But now she's preparing to go again, slowly detaching herself from everything, everyone, but still desparetly wants to graduate. She (understandably) fell behind in school and if she screws up much more she will lose any chance of graduating with her class in a few months... Then there's the new boy who keeps talking to her and following her around even though she hasn't given him any encouragement... I just found this book amazing. I was very into the charaters and felt everything they did... I don't know what to say, just read it! But be warned, this is not a 'light' read. It swears a lot, there's sex and drinking... Nevertheless, a great read with tons of emotions.
I find it hard to believe Cracked Up to Be is Courtney Summers' debut. The writing is breathtakingly unforgettable. Cracked Up to Be is definitely not a light~hearted read. I was stunned speechless. Summers stretched her literary muscles & crafted not any "teen angst fluff", but a lyrically spellbinding tome! I'm not going to summarize the plot for fear it will ruin your reading pleasure. In fact, I don't want to discuss much of Cracked Up to Be for fear of tipping off too much. Courtney Summers is an author that has a natural gift for telling a story; she doesn't need bells & whistles to get her point across. As I was burning through the pages, I kept wondering, "where on earth has Courtney Summers been?" Courtney's riveting prose will hypnotize you from the first page. The players lining Cracked Up to Be are mesmerizing, but Parker is resplendent w/ every hue shimmering like stained glass. Parker's narration is nourishingly illustrative, which Summers generates deftly. Parker seems to "have it all" but things aren't always what they seem. Parker has a fierce longing for approval & a hunger for love which isn't over the top or wishy washy. Kudos to Ms. Summers for hitting a home run w/ Cracked Up to Be. Cracked Up to Be is a profound story w/ rich layers you unearth while turning the pages! I thought I had it all figured out, but I didn't. I'm usually spot on but Summers got me good! Summers vividly showcases that it isn't all that it's "cracked up to be" being a youth in today's society. Summers' somber view makes you sit up & take notice. Cracked Up to Be is an alarming introspection into the barbarity of high school life. Cracked Up to Be is definitely a novel to remember long after you close it. Grab a copy of Cracked Up to Be. Definitely a novel to remember look after you close it.
this book is incredible. the main character is completely screwed up and the story is deep. its not a "oh i'll bring this to the beach and read just for fun, stupid silly book." when i described what the book was about to my friends, they all thought it sounded depressing. I brought the book into school and they'll all read the back cover and were hooked. All of them have borrowed and loved it. Its perfect if you dont like UNrealistic puff stories where everything ends up happily ever after. the book shows flawed characters and that is probably my favorite part is the unique characters. DEFINITELY RECOMMEND! i've reread several times.
The message was unclear to me in the book. I know books don't need messages but this stills seems to need one. It starts out with a girl holding a huge load of guilt on her shoulders. She really wants to kill herself but wants to graduate first. I read this because it was in my teachers classroom. The charectors all have clear intentions but I am still depressed days after I have read this. Not for young minds, or middle school minds even. I shouldnt have read it in 7th grade.
so i read cracked up to be. The first thing i have to saw is that it is an awesome and amazing book. now a problem that i had with it is that well it was hard to get into it about the first 3 chapters i hated and it was like "is this going to be the whole book" i was about to quit. I am so happy i didn't. though the book isn't that long it made me think about my life and how i treat people. and what if my best friend went missing and how would i take it. I think the best books are ones that make you think about what you've read and when you relate it to your own life. which this book totally did. Almost after every single chapter i'd sit and think. "wow" i also thought "am i wasting my life worrying about the little thing and not seeing the whole picture" i mean i worry about what i look like and how people see me and i don't care so much about people's feelings. So this book really made me think of that so im glad that i read this book and yeah. I think that every person should read this book :)
This book like I said wasn't that amazing. I found it hard to get through, and now its currently sitting on my bookshelf, half-read. I dont know what I didn't like about it. I think it was that fact that I found Parker alot different then myself, and ready to argue about anything. Or say something nasty to anyone. Most teens might like this book. But like myself others might find it hard to relate to.
Excellent book. I loved the Parker and I felt I could relate to her. She was funny, adventurous and pretty much everything in between. This book made me laugh and cry. I loved how original the characters were; especially Jake and Parker. I was always expecting religion to jump in (I hate when authors do that). But it didn't and that always kept me going. I finished it in one day. Amazing. I recommend it everyone.
This is definitely not a light-hearted read, and perhaps that is why I did not fall too hard in love with it. After reading so many fun and fuzzy YA books, I was probably unprepared for the different change of pace in cracked up to be. The main character Parker is brutal, and quite frankly I don't think I could be friends with her. She scares me - to be fair, she scares the other characters as well! However, as the story progresses, I saw that her hard exterior masked a very broken interior. I could appreciate her obsession with perfection (being a haphazard perfectionist that I am) and how hard she is on herself. Courtney Summers does an amazing job with teasing us with bits and pieces of why Parker is trying to remove herself from everybody's lives. With each new piece of information - both useful yet still vague - I found myself with a new theory each time and a whole lot of second-guessing. When all the puzzle pieces fell into place, I cannot say that I had a OMG moment, but it definitely explains Parker's path to self-destruction a whole lot better.
Best book I've read in a while!
You wanna keep reading just to figure out what the big secret is thats ruined parker but thats pretty much the only reason its a page turner. It was very frustrating and depressing and I was shocked by all the great reviews cuz I didnt like it but maybe I just didnt get it idk but not for those who like happy books
The story was a bit ongoing-entertaining, but you just know you are in the middle of her life. Parker has a great personality, the ability to just say what's on her mind is so humorous! I really liked her, and I really liked the book. I wish the athour would have given a more detailed ending, but I can live with what she gave me! It's a good read.
I found Cracked Up To Be a very exciteing book, it left you wanting to read more as you read. The emotions of Parker can be felt with every chapter and even some of her emotions the reader his or herself have felt at least felt once in their lives. I recomend this book to anyone who finds the trails of teenage years readable.
I read this really quickly, easily getting into the character and her story, but it really fell apart in the end.Parker is a former perfect kid: honor roll, cheerleader captain, most popular, girlfriend to most popular boy. But now it's senior year and Parker's in danger of failing thanks to no homework, missing days, alienating everyone she knows and coming to school drunk. When new kid Jake shows an interest in Parker, she finds herself drawn to him, despite her conviction that nothing good happens to those around her. She keeps trying to push him away (by mean, snide, rude and usually hilarious comments made to everyone - this part of Parker is, strangely, what makes her likable for me), but she can't keep herself from remembering the night that's gotten her to this desperate point in her life.The big reveal - the thing that's hung over Parker's head for months and made her wish she were dead - is...a let down. While it is devastating, the way the writer handles it is ridiculous. Parker's revelation of what she's been hiding is treated as catharsis instead of as the opening of a police investigation as it should be, which meant I ended the book with a very frustrated "WTF?!"Up til that point, though, I was intrigue and felt sympathy (and some admiration) for Parker. Crap ending, though...
A dark and gritty novel that chronicles Parker as she struggles with the disappearance of her best friend, Cracked Up To Be is addicting and haunting. I finished it in one marathon sitting and it left me breathless.
Fabulousness abounds in this book about a high-schooler with a bevy of skeletons in her closet. Parker Fadley is the former popular ¿it¿ girl on campus. She¿s dating the hunky jock, she¿s got great BFF¿s, and she¿s just about as happy as any girl her age can be. That¿s until she lives through a traumatic event that changes everything.What worked for me ¿Parker. She was bitchy and vulnerable and broken in ways that seem to lack the ability to be repaired. The glory in that is the journey she takes the reader on through her dysfunction and despair. She can¿t find the goodness in herself only the bad and as a result her downfall from popular good girl to rebellious bad girl is epic in the eyes of her peers. Yet, as a reader I still loved her. In fact I loved her more for her faults than I ever would have if she remained the ¿perfect¿ girl she was before certain events transpired.The journey. Summers wrote a fantastic mystery which the reader is constantly left guessing about what truly happened to make Parker change so drastically. Sure, we knew it was bad, there wasn¿t any question about that, but the question that we were always left with was ¿just how bad is it?¿. If self loathing was any indication the events that transpired (which the reader does find out about at the very end of the story) were the bottom of the barrel.The realism. While I myself have not been in the situations that Parker found herself in throughout this novel I have to say it seemed pretty downright realistic to me. Her surly attitude and the rebellious way she acted reminded me of several people I went to high school with. The fact that it was all a mask to a larger problem only emphasized how true to form it all was. Parker pushed and pushed until there was practically nothing left to push away. Yet, even so, she was loved and cared for by those she kept at arms length.What didn¿t work for me ¿Nothing. It all worked for me. Divine character development, excellent plot building, suspense, mystery, a touch of love here and there ¿ it all wrapped up into a fabulously dynamic novel. A novel that, despite the darker undertones, didn¿t leave me feeling hopeless or depressed. On the contrary I was hopeful and encouraged.Cracked Up To Be was not the easiest read in terms of the light and fluffy quotient but I assure you the ride is well worth it. Summers has won the Cybils Award for Young Adult literature for good reason.
Courtney Summers is a great author, I really enjoy her books. This won¿t be my last book from her, and I do regret not buying Some Girls Are when I first saw it and instead getting a sequel book to a book that I don¿t have. Which is a fail on my part. This book is about Parker Fadley. On a side note here, I actually didn¿t realize that her name was Parker, thought people were calling her by her last name. So it made me wonder, `I wonder what her real name is.¿ And then I realized. Parker is/was the most popular girl in school with the popular boyfriend, good grades and such. But something happens, which now becomes a secret she carries. And it might just be her fault.So her parents are keeping her on watch. The school is on watch. Suicide watch that is. And Parker pushes them away because she doesn¿t want help. Not since it happened of course.Now Parker is probably a person in real life that I would detest very badly. But Summers¿ awesome writing, and this was her debut novel by the way, made me root for her, want good things to happen to her. The plot was very good, some things I really liked, some things I was disappointed in and others I didn¿t expect to happen. This reminded me of Speak at times actually. Now the thing I was disappointed in was one word: Romance. I¿m not saying the romance is bad, I¿m just saying that I didn¿t like the romance thing. Meaning I wanted Chris to be with Parker because I just do. I¿m not saying that Jake¿s a bad person, he's a great character. I just wanted Chris to be with Parker. It's just my personal preference.The characters were nice. I didn¿t like Becky as much as I wanted to. Jake was very interesting. Chris, no matter what things Parker will do to him- he¿ll still love her and she knows it. Also about that secret thing, the only thing I can say is this. I won¿t really tell you anything other then the fact that there was a party, beer, and the woods. I was surprised by what happened, I thought it was something else because there was a flashback of a hotel and I was reading a review about a hotel so to put it simply: I was confused.One more thing. The other thing I was disappointed in was quite minor. It doesn't really sway my feelings for this book. It was hotel scene and then Chris crying over her scene. It was a flashback, but I wanted it longer and written out for some reason. Again, it's my personal preference.The cover of the book is a good cover. I really like this one.
Plot: Parker used to be popular. She was a straight A student, captain of the cheer leading team, dating the most popular guy in school. Perfect. But then something went wrong. So wrong that she couldn¿t fix it and it changed her for ever. Now she¿s barely graduating and is doing a good job of alienating anyone who ever liked her. The more people try to help, the more she pushes them away. But the new kid, Jake, isn¿t so easily discouraged. He likes her and he¿s willing to take a lot of abuse in his quest to get close to her and to understand her.Parker is not a likable character. She doesn¿t want to be. But Summers does a good job of portraying her conflicted emotions, emotions that Parker herself doesn¿t always understand. My main problem with the novel is that I don¿t like stories that create suspense by withholding information that the first person narrator knows. Still, it was interesting and realistic and one scene in particular had me bawling my eyes out. It wasn¿t my type of book but if it is, you¿ll probably love it.
"When I finished Cracked Up to Be last Sunday I was at a loss for words. I still am. Most of the struggle I've been having with writing my review boiled down to not wanting to giveaway too much. It's essential that you don't know certain things about the book or it will change the way you read it entirely!"There is a reason this book recently won the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Fiction for 2009. It's a beautiful and dark book that deals with difficult topics. Also, Cracked Up to Be is a book that will have every parent questioning the friends their children chose, the activities they participate in and the types of relationships they have with them. You won't want to put it down, but at the same time you'll keep wishing things were going to go in a different direction."One of my favorite paragraphs in all of my reading, ever, happened in the opening chapter of the book (available for viewing here):Imagine four years.Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings, spilled food, theft, fights, broken limbs, turf wars¿every day, a turf war¿six months until graduation and no one gets a medal when they get out. But everything you do here counts.High school."As for the writing and story...it's not one to be missed, as you can tell from the above paragraph (just perfect in my opinion). Courtney Summers makes 224 pages seem like 50 and this makes it next to impossible to want to put down. Her main character, Parker Fadley is anything but likable most of the time. Parker has annoying ticks, personality quirks, angry outbursts and numerous other issues that make you want to tell her to just "deal with it" most of the time. But there are these little moments Parker has, when you see that they experience of everything she has lived through (not just the "horrible thing", but even before that) has made her a different person. Parker just needs to get through what has happened."It's a brilliant book. Not for the feint of heart, but well worth the couple of hours you will spend reading it. There is a bit of bad language, but truthfully, who went to high school with out it? It's a book about life and the things that happen along the way that you can't change but have to get through some how. I highly recommend this book."
Parker Fadley was perfect, she was on the honor roll and head cheerleader and then she changed drastically. She became the girl who showed up drunk at school, skipped class, and lost almost all her friends. Now, she is scaring her parents and trying to trick the school therapist to get what she wants. She and her parents adopt a dog to try to help Parker with her problems but she uses the dog as an excuse to leave the house. Parker has a secret that she can never forgive herself for. When a new kid moves into her neighborhood, he tries to solve the mystery of what happened to the perfect girl. This is the debut novel of Courtney Summers and it a very jarring tale that will hold the readers¿ interest. The novel drags in the middle but then quickly speeds up toward the end. The twist will surprise teens and make them want more books from this new writer
At first, Summer's novel felt like a poor reproduction of L.H. Anderson's "Speak." But, I kept reading, and it grew on me. Perhaps the overly graphic language was off-putting . . .I'm not sure. I'm not a prude, so probably not. The beginning felt, well, like a hook gone awry, shock for shocks sake. By the middle of the novel, however, I was hooked on the plot and couldn't wait to see how it all worked out. For a first novel, it is decent. I will probably take a look at her future work.
This is definitely not a light-hearted read, and perhaps that is why I did not fall too hard in love with it. After reading so many fun and fuzzy YA books, I was probably unprepared for the different change of pace in cracked up to be.The main character Parker is brutal, and quite frankly I don't think I could be friends with her. She scares me - to be fair, she scares the other characters as well! However, as the story progresses, I saw that her hard exterior masked a very broken interior. I could appreciate her obsession with perfection (being a haphazard perfectionist that I am) and how hard she is on herself.Courtney Summers does an amazing job with teasing us with bits and pieces of why Parker is trying to remove herself from everybody's lives. With each new piece of information - both useful yet still vague - I found myself with a new theory each time and a whole lot of second-guessing. When all the puzzle pieces fell into place, I cannot say that I had a OMG moment, but it definitely explains Parker's path to self-destruction a whole lot better.
I really enjoyed this book. The subject was serious, but the main character was hilarious and really kept you reading. Someone else said the book reminded them of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and I agree to a point. Somewhat similar plot, but this book is more of a fun read. Parker took a bad situation and turned it outward, sassing everyone in sight while Melinda from Speak turned it inward, making it a much darker novel. Anyways, both great books!
My girlfriend received this book through the Early Reviewers Program here on Librarything. I tried to get a copy but failed. But in back sight maybe it was best for just one in our home because others should be able to read and review. I started it last week and could not put it down until I finished it and was lazy until now getting a review written up.Cracked Up To Be opens with the best YA book Chapter One I have ventured into since Little Brother and also as with that book, which I really enjoyed, C.U.T.B. captured me with persons within the pages who I could invest into. Something writers such as Stephenie Meyer and Mr. Paolini could learn a thing or two from.I recommend this book based on a few factors. After reading the first three chapters I hated Parker Fadley but keep reading, I was interested in Parker Fadley and wanted to keep reading, I was attracted to Parker Fadley but ignored my insanity, and before I noticed it I was distracted by the crafting of the story that was taking place, living along, and not thinking about "the horrible thing that happen." This book is not a YA "issue" book as there are so many of those. Cracked Up To Be is a story with people and life that is lived within its pages and the only element it hinges on is being a good story, which it is.C.
Parker has always had to be perfect in everything. Perfect grades, perfect boyfriend, perfect hair and make-up everyday, perfect cheer routines. So when something happens that makes her realize she's not perfect after all, Parker loses it and pushes away everyone and everything she once cared so much about. Will Parker face her demons and forgive herself before its too late?What veers close to being an overly melodramatic saga of a downward spiral into drugs, alcohol and hopelessness after a tramatic event is saved by Parker's undeniable sass and ultimate will to live and to succeed. It seems perfectionist Parker, though "popular", was just as difficult to like as self-destructive Parker, but that doesn't stop boys, or the reader for that matter, from finding her incredibly interesting.As it turns out, the novel, like Parker herself, is not perfect - for example there is a wierd subplot involving an adopted dog that didn't work for me - but hey, even though life is messy, it is still worth living and a book that reflects that truth as honestly and expertly as this one does, certainly deserves to be read.