Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Title: Cracked Up to Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 214
Release date: December 23rd 2008
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought at The Book Depository
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody—be totally alone—then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

First sentence:
Imagine four years.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Courtney Summers is incredible. Her writing took some getting used to for me - it's like nothing I've ever read before. While reading Some Girls Are and Fall for Anything, I was still kind of freaked-out by how depressing her novels are. But I think I've gotten used to her style. The prose is so sparse, it makes everything, especially Parker's emotions, that much clearer. Despite using so few words, the writing is somehow  still vivid - you feel like you're right there with Parker. The style is unique and amazing.

No one can get into the head of a depressed teenaged girl like Courtney Summers can. It's simply amazing how she portrays Parker's emotions and makes me understand them. Parker's a great character. She's such a bitch, and if I met her in real life I'm sure I'd hate her. Somehow, though, and I have no idea how, Courtney Summers made me love Parker. I didn't just tolerate her, I absolutely loved her. I feel bad for it, but her crazy, mean, bitchy, sarcastic responses no one I know would have the guts to say out loud had me laughing throughout the novel, despite the solemn topics. Her pain is so raw and honest, you can't help but feel for her. I wanted what's best for her before I even knew her attitude is justified.

The secondary characters are great as well. I especially liked reading about Chris and Jake - they're just so cute. All of the characters and their relationships with Parker are fully-developed, and I love how the history Parker shares with Chris, Evan, Becky, etc. supports the main plot.

I also enjoyed the mystery aspect of Cracked Up to Be. In the beginning, I though it was obvious what had happened to Parker, but I was totally wrong. I don't want to give anything away, but I never could have guessed what actually happened. I loved the flashbacks - it's incredible how the author managed to include these in the main story so seamlessly. It's great how the reader can slowly see what happened to her unravel.

I kind of already mentioned this, but I'm going to say it again: What this novel made me feel is incredible. It had me laughing about Parker's snarky, sarcastic comments one minute and depressed about the whole thing the next. It's great how Courtney Summers included so many issues in Cracked Up to Be (alcohol abuse, depression, suicide,... and there's more but I don't want to give anything away) without turning it into a preachy "issue" book.

***This next paragraph contains somewhat spoiler-ish information, but nothing about the big secret.***
I was extremely disappointed by the ending. Of course there isn't going to be a quick solution for any of this, but I wanted to see Parker work through her problems. The ending is basically just "I'm going to see a shrink, and I hope I get better." I would have loved to see Parker really deal with her issues and find out if and how she resolves them, but the novel just ends there. That would have probably been the most interesting part, so I'm kind of mad the book didn't continue to show that part of Parker's story.

Another thing I dislike is the cover. To me, it makes it seem like Cracked Up to Be is going to be a fun book about popularity and cheerleading - you know the type. While popularity is sort of part of this novel, I don't think that cover does Cracked Up to Be justice.

All in all, this is an amazing read. If you haven't read anything by Courtney Summers, you really, really should - her writing is incredible and unique, just like her characters. I didn't like the ending of Cracked Up to Be, but I still definitely recommend it! Oh, and does anyone know if Courney Summers has a new book coming out anytime soon? I need more of her writing!


  1. Great review! I was so surprised too, by how easily Summers made Parker someone the reader could like.

  2. I read Cracked Up To Be last year and absolutely loved it. For a debut novel Courtney Summers hit it out of the ballpark. Awesome review!

  3. I'm intrigued what would make a successful teenager like Parker to drop everything.

  4. Thanks for the nice review. This book sounds so great and tempting - more than often I have the same feeling like Parker - I just want to drop everything and chill. But, well, life is not about that. x)

  5. Great review! I don't think I've read a book about a depressed teen in a long time... and now I really want to! Must... read...!

  6. I'd be curious to see how she makes us like a character that's is that bitchy. Nice review.

  7. I'd love to read more about the main character, it takes skill to handle that type of personality in a novel. GFC Krystal Larson

  8. Great review. I've only reccently heard about this one and it sounded really good and it's been hard finding people who have reviewed it :P



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