Rating: 5/5 stars.
In Perfect Ellen Hopkins tells the story of four teens trying to find their flawless selves. Cara’s brother has been committed to a psychiatric hospital after a failed suicide attempt, and she is struggling to deal with their parents’ overbearing expectations as well as her sexual identity. Sean utilizes steroids in order to succeed, but does not realize that the risks and the consequences may make his efforts futile. Kendra covets the perfect body, yet cannot see beyond the idea that skinny is beautiful. Andre aspires to be a dancer, although his family disapproves. These four have to fight not only with the external forces raging against them, but also with their internal demons that may be the end of them.
Staying true to her trademark, Hopkins weaves a tale of teens with issues – in this case, anorexia, homosexuality, steroids, and dance – through her pulchritudinous poetry. Her writing was wonderful and seamless, as always, and Hopkins is one of the few young-adult authors who manages to obtain that perfect balance between not enough detail and too much detail – which, considering the subject matter, is quite an accomplishment.
Like most of her characters, the protagonists of Perfect are flawed but relatable. Cara’s strength and resolve made her my favorite, but I saw a little bit of myself in every character – even, to a small extent, Sean. Hopkins included cameos from the characters of Impulse smoothly, and the intertwining of the two tales by the end of the book was genius.
I vacillated between 4.5 and five stars for this one, mainly because I felt that some of the characters’ story lines could have been resolved more deftly. However, I then remembered Hopkins’ message conveyed through the characters and their journeys: that perfection itself is not a real thing, because it is entirely subjective and everyone has different opinions on what is and what is not perfect. While a couple of the characters in this book were left with far from perfect endings, that’s just how life is. Hopkins has done a praiseworthy deed by writing this book, and I hope many teens who are plagued with these problems will reach the conclusion that there is no need to be perfect – and that, in the end, being who you are is perfect enough.