Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review of Craked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Cracked Up to Be
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace? 

 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.

(Summary from GoodReads)

I loved Some Girls Are, and reading it made me excited for Cracked Up to Be, because I figured Summers can do no wrong when it comes to gritty YA contemps.  Cracked Up To Be gave me two things I expected: a quick read and a main character that’s hard to like.  Unfortunately, Summers's debut failed to engross me the way Some Girls Are did.

Having read Some Girls Are turned out to be a disadvantage for me once I got around to Cracked Up To Be.  Although Courtney’s first two novels are by no means the same, it only took me a few chapters to pick out a pattern.  Summers left her readers a too obvious trail of clues, and this subtracted from the impact of her ending.

I might have liked this book a bit more if not for Parker.  She’s not really supposed to be likable—she’s mean and snippy to everyone around her.  I think that Summers meant for the ending of this book to change the reader’s opinion of her.  Instead, I just found myself thinking, “Too little, too late” and wondering why Parker didn’t make smarter decisions.

I’ve noticed lately that I’ve turned into a pickier and harsher critic of young adult literature, and unfortunately I think that comes with reading a lot of books. When you see how high quality some of the literature is, the material that doesn’t live up to its standards starts to look even worse.  Courtney Summers is a particularly unfortunate case because I liked Some Girls Are so much.  To me, Cracked Up to Be read like a debut novel that just needed more polish and editing, and its quality didn't point towards Summers being a bad writer so much as one who isn't particularly mature yet.  However, Fall For Anything and ThisIs Not A Test are both waiting on my TBR pile, so we’ll see how those two titles alter my opinion.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book. 


  1. Oh, that makes me sad! This is the only Courtney Summers book I have not read yet, but maybe I will enjoy it more than you because it's been such a long time since I've read her books, like months.

    Great review though -- I love your honesty.

    1. I hope you do! I'm really looking forward to picking up THIS IS NOT A TEST soon--I keep hearing it's her best, and it sounds like the most unique of all of her books.

  2. I need to pick up this, or one of the other books I own by her. I think I've actually impulse-bought ALL of her books, but still haven't read one...



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