Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on December 23rd, 2008
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“The sooner you make a mistake and learn to live with it, the better. You’re not responsible for everything. You can’t control the way things end up.”
Sadie by Courtney Summers is one of my favourite books of all-time. And what better way to spend quarantine than to go back and read her previous books?! I happened to snag this from my library before everything shut down.
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. 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.
I think I went into this book with too high of expectations especially since I did love Sadie so much.
But let’s start off with what I did like about this book:
The storytelling device of having snippets of flashbacks to that fateful night was done with expertise.
Summers did it enough that it kept your attention and she revealed bit by bit why Parker had a sudden change in personality.
So when we finally get the full picture, everything clicks and you can replay all of Parker’s actions and words and everything makes sense.
But did I like any of the characters? Honestly, no. Chris was the classic golden boy of high school, Becky lived up to the Becky name that we all know and make fun of on the internet, and Jake was the classic “boy who can break through and really love the broken girl.”
For all of Parker’s nastiness, I did appreciate that the heroine of the story is messed up. She did something bad. She’s unreliable, mean, and she makes us think that we know her, but we don’t. She’s not sure what she wants and she doesn’t know how to deal with that.
At the end of the day, it just doesn’t sit well with me that Parker witnessed a crime and didn’t do anything about it. She could’ve over a long period of time and chose not to. And let the guilt eat her up. It just felt very selfish.
I think the book would’ve made a stronger impact if Parker had reported the crime and had to deal with the backlash against her close friend because of the report. (I’m keeping this part as vague as possible to avoid spoilers for people!)
I guess I’m struggling to understand what Summers was trying to say with this book. Ex-popular girls can be complex, too? Been there, done that. We have so many YA books that deal with that.
Maybe she was trying to shed a light on the toll witnessing a crime like that can have on your mental health? But then again, Parker had so many chances to report and bring justice to her friend and didn’t. She just wallowed and pushed away everyone close to her.
And ultimately, that’s why I gave it a three bubble tea rating. I’m a sucker for an imperfect character and the pacing of the story was well done. It’s not a bad book by any means, but I just wanted a stronger statement from Summers about a serious topic.
For me, I’d skip out on this one and read Sadie instead if you’re looking to get into Summers’ work!