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Friday, October 28, 2016

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

Title: Pushing Perfect
Series: N/A
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Source: ARC

A girl’s quest for perfection results in dangerous consequences in this layered, suspenseful YA novel by the author of Playlist for the Dead.

How far would you go to be perfect?

Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes.

But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.

This dark, emotionally resonant contemporary YA novel is perfect for fans of We Were Liars and The Secret History.

I received an Advance Reader Copy at no cost from the author/publisher via Irish Banana Tours.

Pushing Perfect is about a girl with severe anxiety issues. The first thing that I have to say about this book before I go into the story or the characters is that much of the main character's inner workings can be very triggering to someone with these same issues. I personally deal with severe anxiety issues and while I appreciate the view of the main character, I also had a hard time getting through the book because of this. So, just to get my point across, I enjoyed this book even though it felt overwhelmingly personal. That being said, the anxiety issues only seem to take up the first part of the book. Once the mystery portion of the book kicks off, the main character's anxiety issues don't seem to be as intense. Since I know what anxiety feels like, this seemed highly unbelievable. Anxiety issues don't just disappear overnight, which is what it felt like happened for the main character, Kara. I do applaud the author on tackling such a serious and sometimes controversial issue. I loved the diversity, and I will always be a fan of diversity in books.

The plot of the book is fleshed out really well. There weren't any loopholes in the story, and everything flowed together fabulously. I am not usually the biggest fan of first person viewpoints, but it was very effective. Especially in terms of the main character's anxiety issues. I really loved the mystery/suspense parts of the story. It was orchestrated fabulously. I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out who the blackmailer was. I was so intrigued. I had some mixed feelings about the way the story ended after the identity of the blackmailer was brought to light. It felt unrealistic. I don't want to give anything away though, so I will leave it at that.

The characters were written very well. I felt very connected to the main character, Kara, and not just because I identify with her anxiety issues. She came across as very genuine and wholly realistic. Kara had a distinct narrative voice that pulled me in. I enjoyed all of the side characters as well. The chemistry was believable, and I enjoyed all the different relationships between the characters.

The romance in the book was in short supply. I would have loved to see Kara and Raj come together in the book a little sooner.

Overall, Falkoff tells a compelling story about self identity and self discovery that merges with a shocking mystery. This was a book that surprised me. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I would definitely recommend this book.

Michelle Falkoff's fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law.

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