Sunday, September 18, 2011

PERFECT by Ellen Hopkins

She has done it again!  Ellen Hopkins new book PERFECT is described as a companion to her previous book IMPULSE.  Hopkins has a gift for following her characters through life, and as a reader, I appreciate this skill and her willingness to dedicate writing time to keeping her characters growing and changing from one book to the next.

PERFECT follows the lives of those changed by Conner's suicide attempt in IMPULSE.  The family has kept the details of Conner's "accident" hidden from most, but this has left his twin sister Cara struggling with problems of her own.  Cara is dealing with a mother worried more about what her bridge club will think than what is happening in her family.  Her father spends as much time as possible away from home. 

At first Cara hopes Sean will help her deal with her confusion about Conner's absence, but she soon realizes he will not be providing the answers she needs.  He is having his own issues as he deals with the pressure of excelling in academics and sports, his ticket to the college of his dreams.  In his drive for perfection, he turns to steroids which turn him into a raging menace bent of having Cara no matter the cost.

An afternoon of snowboarding ends with Cara finding the perfect person destined to rescue her both literally and figuratively.  Unfortunately, Cara discovers that finding her perfect person could potentially reveal that Cara herself may not be the "perfect" person her parents envision.

Conner's actions have changed another life - Kendra's.  She was sure the love she shared with Conner would last forever.  When he didn't return to school and no one seemed to know the real reason why, she turned all her focus on the modeling career of her dreams. 

The pressure to fit the perfect ideal of a runway model has Kendra starving herself to the point of collapse.  Any chance of loving intervention is lost in her own dysfunctional family.

Finally, there's Andre.  Connected to the story through his plastic surgeon mother's relationship with Kendra and his chance meeting with Kendra's sister Jenna, Andre enters the story on his own search for perfection.  His ambitious parents have a definite plan for his future, but those plans are far different than Andre's own dreams.  He recognizes the warning signs of self-destruction in the risk-taking Jenna but seems to miss similar signs in his own life.

Ellen Hopkins masterfully intertwines the lives of her characters as she takes readers on a journey revealing the power and potential destruction in the search for perfection.  Hopkins uses her talent to present a no-nonsense, direct message that being perfect is about self-respect and not about the perfection imposed upon us by others.

No comments: