Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Tags: YA, tragedy, rape

Rating: 5 out of 5


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 it’s all by her choice. She’s 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. It’s a short but dense read that will keep you impatiently engrossed in Parker’s 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 school—something I, along with most of us, have never experienced—but even so they are bitchy, emotional, hurt, in love, in lust, manipulative—in short, relatable, complex, and one hundred percent real.

The novel is set up in a way that we don’t find out about what’s 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 doesn’t beat around the bush. That’s the way Parker talks also; she gets straight to the point in wonderfully sarcastic lines.

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's only $9.95! It'll be the best ten dollars you've spent in a long time.

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - I even like the cover. Not that I think the model is actually Parker--rather, I love the bright steadiness of the colors. It's an image that fools you as to what's really inside, kind of like how a lot of teenagers put on a cheery front to hide inner turmoil.


  1. Excellent review!
    This sounds like a really interesting read :)

  2. Wow, 5/5! I find this so interesting, because I really didn't like this book. lol. If I had to rate it, I would probably give it 1.5 or 2. I love differing opinions :)

  3. Brilliantly written review, by the way. I agree that Courtney Summers is definitely a writer to keep an eye on!

  4. I really liked this book. I can't wait to read more from Courtney Summers. :)

  5. I saw this awhile ago at the grocery store book section and was pretty intrigued, especially since the author seems to be Canadian & is into photography. ;)

    idk, I guess the cover threw me a litle, how misleads one to think its just another typical high school story. After reading the synopsis though, I was definitely curious.

    But if you've rated it a 5 - hey, my interest is even more piqued. I'll have to give this one a try sometime.

    Sweet review!

  6. All the reviews make me want to read this book like crazy but unfortunately I've never had a chance. You're killing me with this, Steph.

  7. I agree, I loved this book! especially how it kept replaying that one scene over and over again adding more details every time!!! Thanks for the Review

  8. I've been wanting to read this forever! Good to know it's awesome. :)

    Oh wow!! You're reading battle royale!! Enjoy! I loved it. Can't wait to read what you think. :D

  9. I read it last week and I absolutely loved it, too! It was an intense, emotional journey and so well written. I'm keeping my eye on Summers too!

  10. I really loved this one, too! I find myself comparing a lot of the YA I've read lately to Cracked Up To Be, which I read last fall -- and still think about!

  11. 5/5s are always must reads to me. It's definitely going to be on my bookshelf this summer!

  12. Sounds perfect, what else can I say?
    i'd love to read this, I'll have to find out if it's coming out in Arg any time soon.

  13. I am not going to be original this time, so all I am going to say that your blog rocks, sad that I don't have suck a writing skills


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