Better Than Perfect
by Melissa Kantor
HarperTeen, 2015. 324 pages. Young adult fiction.
Juliet has a perfect life: beautiful and ambitious parents; a brother at Yale; an impending early admission letter for Harvard; a boyfriend who is just as driven as she is. Their motto has always been "Don't make a scene." And Juliet has always lived for the security that perfection gave her. But when her father suddenly moves to an apartment in the city and her mother overdoses on prescription medications, Juliet begins to see how imperfect her perfect life is.
This book was a hard choice for me as a staff pick, mostly because for a lot of the book I was really angry with Juliet and a lot of the poor choices she was making. But the point of the book is not her poor choices; in the end, Juliet is searching for joy in her life that transcends the mere illusion of perfection. As a recovering perfectionist myself, this theme was really powerful to me. The point of this book is to emphasize that life is messy and cannot always be tightly controlled. Readers, while they may deplore the choices Juliet is making, will see how she is genuinely searching for a more effective way to live her life and new ways to relate to her no-longer-perfect family. A hard read, but very satisfying in the end.