No Perfect Places

No Perfect Places
Age Range
Release Date
May 30, 2023
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From lauded author Steven Salvatore comes a YA about twins whose incarcerated father dies and leaves behind a life-changing secret.

When their father was imprisoned for embezzlement, twins Alex and Olly Brucke lost everything except their strong bond with each other. But after their dad dies unexpectedly, the twins start to fracture. Alex is spiraling, skipping classes to get drunk or high. Olly is struggling with a secret his dad ordered him to keep: they have a secret half-brother, Tyler.

So when Tyler shows up in their lakeside town for the summer, hoping to get to know his siblings, Olly hides the truth from Alex. But as Alex and Tyler start to form a friendship, the lies become harder to juggle. If they can’t confront their father’s past and fix their relationship, Olly and Alex each risk losing two siblings forever.

A thought-provoking novel about grief, family secrets, and figuring out how to belong against the odds.

Editor review

1 review
A Meditation in Grief
(Updated: November 04, 2023)
Overall rating
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NO PERFECT PLACES by Steven Salvatore is a YA Contemporary novel about loss, grief, rock bottom, and all the lessons learned along the way. The Brucke twins have been through it; their father got arrested for embezzlement, resulting in them losing their home, economic status, and position in the community. They’re barely holding it together when their dad passes away unexpectedly in prison, right after a new secret of his has come to light; he got another woman pregnant, and Olly and Alex have a half-brother, Tyler. As Olly gets close to Tyler, Alex spirals out of control, and all three of them end up fracturing. The question is — will they ever be able to support one another, or are they doomed to repeat their father’s failures?

What stands out about this novel is the characters' POVs. I enjoyed getting to read both Olly’s and Alex’s perspectives because it helped highlight how complex tragedy and heartache are, and how every human deals with it differently. The twins also each have distinctive voices that are compelling in their own right. Olly’s world of steadfastness and film and Khal is such a nice contrast to Alex’s world of numbing activities and cooking and Hunter. Also, even with such heavy circumstances, they’re both so funny and made me smile in so many places.

This story would have been even better with a few pacing tweaks. It’s a tough subject matter, so it makes sense that it’s a slower read. However, there are a lot of moments that loop around and around, which while an accurate reflection of real life, for the book’s purposes, if Salvatore cut out these repetitive elements, the story would’ve had more consistent momentum. It sits at 368 pages right now, but Salvatore could have found a sweet spot with maybe fifty fewer pages. On the other hand, Salvatore does condense the timeline in some moments I actually wanted more buildup, like how Alex goes from hating Hunter, to getting with him, and then hating him again. It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to be impacted by it emotionally, even though I understood it intellectually.

That being said, Salvatore does a great job at taking a complicated subject matter and finding the raw humanity, and lightness, in it. This book is not only a great read, but it could also be a safe space for anyone who knows someone incarcerated, anyone who has been through a scandal, or anyone who feels like they don’t quite fit in.
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