Cracked Up to Be
Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors 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.
Parker was a good girl. A nice girl. A cheerleader. A straight-A student.
Then something happened. Something which changed Parker completely. Something she wishes she could change. Her mood, her grades, and her spirits have all plummeted. Haunted, Parker is no longer the girl she once was - and she doesn't want to be, not anymore.
Courtney Summers' debut novel is not to be missed. From its first page, Cracked Up to Be is raw and real. With everything referring back to a party and alluding to something that transpired there, there's an element of mystery to the story that will keep readers glued to the book until the very last page.
I also reviewed this book at Bildungsroman and SparkNotes - SparkLife.
I also interviewed the author, Courtney Summers.
As far as comparing Summers’ other novels, Cracked Up to Be is probably most similar to Some Girls Are (though thankfully its plot doesn’t rely on Disappearing Parent Syndrome like the latter’s did). The protagonist in this book, Parker, is a snarky, nasty girl who’s main goal into life is to be left to her own devices. Her method of doing that? Alienate everyone she knows and drink like she’s stumbled on the last oasis in a desert. Parker’s gone from head cheerleader, most popular girl in school, to nothing, but it’s not enough for her. She won’t stop until everyone hates her and they ignore her. That’s what she wants.
The reason Parker’s behavior has taken such a self-destructive turn is kept mostly a secret until the end, revealed layer by layer in the form of flashbacks. I’m of the opinion that this stylistic choice wasn’t the best, since by the time the “big reveal” comes in the last few chapters, the reader already knows why Parker is the way she is, and it’s a bit underwhelming. (Also, by this time we’ve seen the pivotal scene play out in Parker’s memories at least five times, so it’s getting a bit redundant and overdone.)
Parker is probably the best of Summers’ four protagonists. She wasn’t stupid like Regina from Some Girls Are, and she wasn’t emotionally unavailable like Eddie and Sloane from Fall for Anything and This Is Not a Test. Rather, Parker’s issues have made her bitter and sarcastic and uninhibited. Parker’s dialogue is snappy and blunt, and even when she was being terrible to her former friends, it was hard not to laugh.
The big complaint I had with Cracked Up to Be was the way everything played out in the end. Obviously I can’t get into details because that would be a massive spoilery discussion. Basically, the story felt incomplete. I didn’t feel like Parker showed much growth as a person by the last page. In my opinion, she was essentially the same. The thing with realistic fiction is that (supposedly) the author presents a person with a problem, then shows how that character goes about dealing with that problem. Parker’s method of dealing with her problem was to be a jerk, and it’s only in the final two pages that she maybe shows a side of herself that isn’t a jerk. It wasn’t enough for me, though.
While Cracked Up to Be isn’t my favorite of Courtney Summers’ novels (that honor goes to Fall for Anything), this book is still extremely good, extremely unique, and well worth reading. Being inside Parker’s head is a different experience than one typically finds, and even if I didn’t like the way she told her story, Summers is still a powerful and talented writer.
Plot: Plotwise, this book was a long the lines of Between by Jessica Warman. Trying to figure out what happened leading up to the current time. (Both girls were popular or former populars, too.) Parker gradually allows herself to recall more and more of the night her life started to go down hill. The plot was a little slow, which I didn't mind at all because even in the small scenes, something was always going on. I feel that the ending was rushed compared to how slowly the rest of the book moved. Within a few chapters you find out what really happened, they react and then it ends.
Characters: I loved Parker, she speaks my language: sarcasm. Although I'm not quite as gutsy to say some of the things she does. I still don't 100% understand why she just wanted to be left alone, but I really liked her character's back story and how she used to be "perfect" and now she's not. She's got this I-don't-a-crap-what-you-think-about-me attitude and says whatever comes to her mind. She can come off a bit rude when insisting that Jake likes her and Christopher is still in love with her.
Jake. Ah, he still likes Parker even though she hates his guts, or does she? I was disappointed they didn't get very far and I kept mentally hitting Parker for pushing him away. Maybe we'll get a sequel with more Parke? (Woo! for on-the-spot couple naming!)
Okay, so maybe it's true that Christopher is still in love with her. I don't see why they broke up, but I guess it was part of the becoming unperfect plan that Parker had in mind. I like him. If they had been together during the course of the book, I think they would have been a cute couple. Parke is so much better though. If it even exists.
Becky. Do I really need to waste time on her? Even if Parker tormented her a bit, okay a lot, I never really felt sorry for her. She was too much like a few of the attention seeking girls at my school I try to avoid.
Riley. I was really going to cry. The tears were ready to fall and I kept waiting for it to be fake. It totally crossed the line of things acceptable. Really though, Riley was just another character (even if he is a dog) that loved Parker and it's not really clear why.
Jess. I kept waiting for the story of her disappearance to be something really spectacular and different than a lot of other books, but it was pretty typical for a YA book.
Overall: I like it. I'll definitely be picking up a few more of Courtney Summers' books, but at the library; I probably won't by them. Though this book was pretty good, it was also pretty average.
thought Some girls are was a good
book, but Cracked up to be is even
can I say? Courtney Summers did it again! That was an amazing story. Im sure Summers
have touched millions of teenagers life.
writing is amazing. Better Yet, the story is incredible. It was the best book I
ever read. You dont want the book to end, you want more and more of it. You
want more of Parker.
only thing I can say is, Poor Parker!
was a self absorbed person (Just like Jake, the new kids at her school,
described her) but I liked her. A lot! She was interesting and challenging. She
was outstanding, controlling and popular! She had it all but all she wanted to
be was alone and & Im sure, thats all wed want if we were HER. Everybody was
trying to help her. They were all nice and gave their best shot. Parker didnt
outstanding story. Well Written!
wait to read more of Summers book!
From back cover: WHATS THE WORST THING YOUVE EVER DONE? When Perfect Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all the St. Peters High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular girl in school, consummate teachers pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesnt want to talk about it. Shed just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, theres a nice guy falling in love with her and hes making her feel things again when shed really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed shed turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and I just might be her fault.
Favorite characters, quotes/lines: Parker: I read in a review that Parker was a lot like Veronica Mars& and Id have to agree, that was actually one of my favorite aspects of the book, I also really liked how Summers was so realistic about Parkers guilt; Jake: I was definitely rooting for him!; Chris: He was really caring and composed considering what had been happening between him and Parker, etc.
When I finished this book I felt: This book was really intense& it wasnt what I expected, but it was really, really good. It made was deep, it was emotional, and it was entertaining: all at the same time.
Other books to read by this author: this is her first novel
I would recommend this book to: everyone& it really is appropriate for all readers (above elementary school for the most part&)
Parker Fadley used to be perfect:
cheerleading captain, honor roll, most popular boyfriend. Now, however, in her
senior year of high school, she has none of those, and its all by her choice.
Shes constantly getting in trouble, and has to meet with her guidance
counselor once a week to discuss her issues.
What happened to make Parker act
this way? As Parker pushes away her old friends and struggles with her feelings
for the new boy, Jake, she also grapples with her guilt over a terrible event
that happened the year before.
CRACKED UP TO BE is pretty much
perfect. Its a short but dense read that will keep you impatiently engrossed
in Parkers convoluted world, unable to tear yourself away until you find out
what happened to make Parker deteriorate so much.
Of course, it is Parker who
carries the novel, Parker who makes me love this book. One of the most
difficult things for a writer to do is to create characters who are not
necessarily likable but still make readers empathize with them. Parker and all
her friends are such characters. They are the most popular people at their high
schoolsomething I, along with most of us, have never experiencedbut even so
they are bitchy, emotional, hurt, in love, in lust, manipulativein short, relatable,
complex, and one hundred percent real.
The novel is set up in a way that
we dont find out about whats been eating at Parker until the very end, and
the setup is wonderfully appropriate, for it allows us to focus on the
character development while being intrigued by the backstory. I said that this
book is pretty much perfect, and not just in the foundations, like the
characters and the plot. Courtney Summers is also a writing master: she writes
in an unassuming, straightforward prose that doesnt beat around the bush.
Thats the way Parker talks also; she gets straight to the point in wonderfully
All in all&does this review even
need a conclusion? Are you confused about how I feel about this novel? Run out
and buy it right now!
It cant be fixed, so let it go.(pg. 179)
Parker Fadley was the popular girl, head of cheerleading, went, and was
invited to parties, and tried to do everything perfect. She was tough on the cheer squad, and tough on herself, trying to get everything just right. However, after terrible disaster happens and she blames herself, Parker goes down hill. Now
she is struggling in school, having to go to the school counselor, and
on top of all of that, the new boy is falling in love with her. The question is, will Parker learn to move on and forgive herself? Will others learn to forgive her? Will she start loving and turn back into the daughter her parents used to know? The best way to find out is by reading the story, Cracked Up to be by Courtney Summers!
Courtney Summers did a great job portraying the feelings of Parker throughout the story. It was neat how she included the flash backs which helped the reader understand why Parker is in the state that she is. I
enjoyed this book, however it got a little frustrating how when it
looked like Parker might just turn around for the better, it seemed
like she always came crashing back down again. I
think that it would have been nice if something really good came up for
Parker in the story, making her a little happier maybe. Overall,
it was a pretty good book but I do wish that there could have been a
follow up, an afterward, with how Parker is doing and add a little bit
more happiness to the story.
reprinted with authors permission here: http://booksforteensreviews.blogspot.com/
Now if you're like me and read a lot of book blogs, you've probably seen this one up about...oh everywhere. All the reviews for it are amazing. It got me thinking, can it really be that good? Because sometimes when everyone else finds something so great, I get horrible disappointed with all the hype.
When taking on how to write a story there are authors that show you the characters and those that tell you about them. This book definitely shows you, which made it all more real in a sense. I could picture this book like a movie playing in my head. See the characters for who they were, hear their voices, and all those other great things we as readers love. Out of the all the characters in the book I warm up to Parker easily...who really isn't exactly a warming character at first. Might be the sarcastic wit she holds that sucked me in. But she's got a secret and a major problem - only if everyone would just leave her the hell alone, she might finally be okay...or so she thinks.
The fact is that no matter how much Parker tries to shove everyone away, they're still there. Even though Parker is...ahem sometimes....they all still care, which made me care. Immediately I had to know why and what happened to make her like this.
The mystery behind this story is fantastic. There are little hints here and there, but not enough for me to really guess what it was. You will be hooked from the first chapter and unable to put it down. Unless you realize you have to be at work in four hours and have no clue what you just read in the last five pages because you're so tired. Then after you get off of work, you go straight home, hyped up on caffeine, and pick this book back up to finish it. Only to get to the end and realize how much it was worth it.
I love reading debut novels and Courtney Summers has swept me away. I cannot wait to read more from her! Oh and my only complaint is that the story ended. So to answer my own question in the first part of this review: Yes, it's THAT good!
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
really had no expectations for this book, so I was pleasantly surprised
when it turned out to be very funny and psychological. Parker seems to
be a typical smart-mouthed, teenager. Except for one tiny fact: she
committed suicide, and failed. When reading this book, the dialog was
so blunt, but that made the story seem all the more real and risky.
Many authors these days go for the safe storyline, but Courtney Summers
took this book to its full potential and I ended up really liking it. I
literally could not put it down and read it in 2 sittings(it was a
The book begins with a bunch of mysteries:Parker quit the cheer leading squad, she stole her ex boyfriends' money, etc. They are all resolved and it makes sense in the end.
This book really reminded me of I know its over
by C. K. Kelly Martin(which I also loved) because of how it really
draws you in by the first page, and you just can't do anything else
'till you finish it. The characters were so believable and I felt like
I knew them. I'm not just saying this. This type of book makes me feel
good to read. It captures me and doesn't let go. I miss YA books that I
can really, deeply relate to, and this one made all the other
trashy-gossip-girl-type-junk worth it.
Parker Fadley used to be perfect, but now, shes a perfect mess. She used to be captain of the cheerleading squad, the girlfriend of the hottest guy in school, and on consistently on the honor roll. But shes traded all that popularity away for frequent visits to the school counselor, minimal privileges at home and school, and social difficulty. But why? Why would a girl who had it all do such a thing to herself? To everyone else, its a mystery. People think shes just messing around, but shes not. Theres a reason Parker has withdrawn from everything good, and it has everything to do with before and a series of horrible events Parker blames herself for.
Cracked Up To Be is an incredibly written and emotionally charged debut novel I seriously could not put down. Its one of those novels that makes you think twice and not only just about he story, but your own life as well. Parker Fadley is such a complex and unforgettable character. Theres something so endearing about her brutal honesty yet at the same time, its so easy to hate her guts. Parkers flashbacks to a certain night, the night everything changed for Parker, only magnify the suspense and urge the reader to flip the pages faster to discover the big secret. And its definitely a juicy one, a twist in the plot I never saw coming. This novel shocked me, and not just because of the well-drawn characters and masterfully written plot, but because of how relevant it was to me and other teens as well, Im sure. Everyone faces pressure to be the best and has petty friendship disputes, but sometimes it becomes so great we crack, like Parker did. But whats so phenomenal about this story is that it ends on a hopeful note after such an emotional roller coaster, and that makes Cracked Up To Be by such a satisfying read.
Cracked Up To Be has definitely made my favorites list, and I would even consider rereading it several times even though my schedule is busy; thats how much I liked it. I recommend it to fans of Alyson NoÃ«l, Lisa Yee, and Aimee Friedman. Summers is an author to watch, and I enthusiastically look forward to more incredible writing from her.
reposted from http://thebookmuncher.blogspot.com