Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor Review

"Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either."


Better Than Perfect is YA Contemporary. Recommended for 13 and up, this novel is definitely re-readable. I simply want to read it again and again. Now, I haven't read anything by Melissa Kantor other than "If I Have A Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?" but I can tell that I definitely want to read more from Kantor. 

Juliet Newman is seemingly perfect. From the outside, she has a wonderful family, a Harvard-worthy boyfriend, and a bright future ahead of her. However, that so-called perfection shatters. I love how Kantor simply isolates her from everyone she cares about. She is lost. Her mother is in the hospital and in trouble, her father is simply gone, her aunt isn't understanding, her brother is busy with his own business, her boyfriend is away, and her best friend has a job. Then all of the sudden, she meets Declan and everything simply changes. The day that starts off as the worst day of her life suddenly becomes one of the best. Julie, as a character, is flawed and not the perfect she wants to be (and wishes to be). For the sake of spoilers, I can't talk much but I absolutely love her strong and stunning character development.

Declan is in a band. Nice and different from Juliet's boyfriend, Declan lights Juliet up in ways her boyfriend doesn't. I won't say much about him, but I do have to say that he is very good for Juliet and he is a catalyst in the plot. 

The plot starts off seemingly innocent. This is when Juliet's life is "perfect" with little cracks and grimy spots. You might not see it, but if you are looking for it, you can tell. Anyway, once she has found her mother passed out is when everything suddenly explodes. The story simply catches me in its trap, and I find myself wanting to read more and more. The drama simply reminds me of a teenage movie but without its usual cheesiness. 

The ending leaves me unsettled. Better Than Perfect is a standalone, so the ending simply takes me by surprise. However, the more I think about the ending, the more I realize how perfect it is. It has been cut a bit short, but it leaves off the story in a beautiful way. 

Overall, Better Than Perfect is a gorgeous and absolutely touching tale with plentiful great moments of defeat and ultimately, triumph. The plot is absolutely wickedly amazing, and I love the way Melissa Kantor spins the story. Juliet Newman is an amazing character, who I easily empathize with despite the little similarities we are. Most of all, I love family drama.

Rating: Four out of Five

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