This week’s recommendation is Present, Perfect by Alison G. Bailey.
Amanda Kelly spent her entire life trying to control every aspect of it, while striving for perfection. Her obsession with being perfect, along with her feelings of worthlessness, consumed her. The one thing she thought was perfect in her life was the bond she shared with her best friend, Noah.
Everything was going according to her life plan until she woke up one day and realized she had fallen in love with him. The one thing she couldn’t control was the affect he had on her. Noah had the power to give her one hundred lifetimes of happiness, which also gave him the power to completely devastate her. He was the one thing in her life that was perfect, but she couldn’t allow herself to have him.
Her life begins to unravel. Events take over and force her to let go of her dreams and desires. She needs to realize that a person cannot control the events in their life, only their reaction to them…but will it be too late for her to save her relationship with her best friend?
Present Perfect is a story of how past events have present consequences and how perfect your present could be if you stopped fighting and just allowed it to happen.
Amanda is constantly compared to her older sister who can do everything better; ride bikes, get good grades and of course, is so much prettier. Even worse, she is a kind, lovely person. I’m already feeling sorry for Amanda, whose desperate strives for perfection always fall short.
From the start of the book, the author takes on a journey of growing up as the less-perfect sibling. From being dressed as Tweety-Pie for Halloween at the age of six, to being described as ‘ugly’ by the mean girls at school, everything that happens to Amanda seems to confirm her low opinion of herself. The one shining light in all of this teenage angst is her best friend, Noah.
Oh, Noah …
He’s a baseball playing, sensitive gorgeous boy who becomes Amanda’s self-appointed protector, taking care of her when life gets her down, and standing between her and teenage lotharios when they try to get too close.
Despite the fact he loves Amanda, she can’t bring herself to see them as anything more than friends. The author describes the angst of being a teenager so perfectly; the belief that nobody can love you when you don’t love yourself, that you just aren’t good enough for the boy of your dreams.
That a friendship isn’t worth ruining over a quick fling.
So Amanda pushes Noah away. More than once. And I had to bite my nails, my lips, and then put my hands under my behind to stop myself from shaking this imaginary character. Because he loves her, he loves her and she just can’t see it.
And there I go again – getting all het up!
Up to this point, the story seemed like a well-written, enjoyable NA story. Then, about two thirds into the body of the novel, we get to the game changer. The one I can’t tell you about, but the one that makes Amanda see things oh, so differently. This part of the book deserves six or more stars – it grabbed my heart, chewed it up and then spat it out on a dirty sidewalk. It made me think about the story long after I’d finished the final page, and made me want to cuddle my husband and children all night.
Overall, I give this story five stars. Four for the first part, then a huge six plus for the rest. Go read it, enjoy it, and wipe the tears off your face. It’s worth every one.