Parker faces a staggering amount of pressure and expectation every day. He must get into Princeton and become a good Jewish doctor. In order to accomplish this goal, he must maintain a schedule of activities that has him heading to bed at 1 AM after AP classes, sports practice, volunteer work, and school club meetings.
To his sister, Danielle, it seems like Parker leads a charmed life. Hes been voted the Senior Sex Symbol, has girls (including her own best friend) chasing after him, and is the center of attention at school and at home. Its tough to walk in Parkers shadow. So why doesnt Parker seem to appreciate what he has?
The demons Parker faces are unexpected and unusual, but they make complete sense in context. A teenage boy suffering from bulimia, given Parkers background, is believable even if it is unique.
I like the way Friedman alternates chapters between brother and sister, giving readers the benefit of a full perspective of the unreliable protagonist. The deterioration of Parkers condition, the breaking down of his relationships and his carefully constructed world are painful to watch, but fascinating and accurate.
Danielles voice is that of a typical jealous sibling, who craves her brothers attention even while she hopes for a break from his perfection. Her growing concern matches that of the audience, giving an outlet for emotion.
Some minor annoyances, like over-explanation of a familiar culture and the coincidence of two rare diseases introduced to the same family at the same time, are easily swept away by great writing.
Friedman brings strong characters to a fascinating format of alternating straight prose and free verse that works to strengthen the novel. A well-told story that will resonate with teen readers in todays overwhelming and fast-paced society.