by E. Katherine Kottsras
To be published by St. Martin's Griffin
on November 1, 2016
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check
Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes to a screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.
My take: This book definitely had its moments, but also had a whole lot of plot elements and for me they didn't all work together.
It's the summer before Viviana's senior year, and she's got a plan: spend the summer at an engineering academy, SAT prepping, etc. But her crippling anxiety attacks start getting in the way. Her shifting relationships with her absent, high-achieving father and her best friend, who likes the same guy that Viviana's falling for, have her seriously off-balance. As Viviana's plans start to crumble, she begins to question her goals, and who she wants to be.
It seems to me that would be plenty of plot for a book (and the chapter headings modeled after standardized testing were clever and funny). But then there was a WHOLE lot of other stuff. First, there was backstory about Viviana sending naked pictures of herself to an ex, backstory that was used as a reason for Viviana's anxiety attacks. I didn't really think this added anything to the story. Plus, it was sort of perplexing to me. Because it happened before the book begins, the reader isn't really sure exactly what happened or why. At the start of the book, Viviana seems like such a responsible, level-headed person, with her endless college to-do list, that taking nude pictures of herself and sending them to a guy seemed really out of character, and the book didn't really explain why she did this. Much later in the book she says something bizarre, like "when when I love, I love with all my heart" (and naked pictures, apparently.) This incident was also used to explain trust issues she had with the new guy, but for me that just muddled the issue that Viviana knows she's falling for a guy she knows her best friend Sammi is crushing on. Uncool!
Another big part of the plot has to do with Viviana's parents. Her mother has health issues, and her father is sort of inexplicably off in Singapore. Without spoilers, I think that another option to pull the plots together would have been if this storyline stayed and the SAT stuff went.
My favorite cover of the week, though!