Published by Kensington on 6/30/15
Genres: Dating & Sex, Family, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
My content rating: Very mature YA (Sex, drug and alcohol use, etc.)
“Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing.” –Huntley Fitzpatrick
When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High's resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:
1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.
Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?
This book was so incredibly thought-provoking, I couldn’t sleep after finishing it because I just couldn’t stop thinking about it! I have to confess that I was nervous when the book started out – I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with all of Lexi’s choices, and I wondered if the theme of the book was going to be that Lexi should be “who she was” – bad choices and all – without worrying so much about the consequences. I discovered, though, that this was not the theme of the book at all. Yes, Lexi accepting herself was a huge part of the story, but so was Lexi realizing that she wasn’t truly who she thought she was – and that maybe others weren’t either.
The synopsis sums up the story pretty well, so I’m going to jump right into my review.
What I LOVED:
- Everything is not as it seems. Like I said, Lexi starts the book with certain expectations – of herself and of others. She is sure that she’s not good enough to live up to her friends’ expectations. Lexi assumes that, because her mom is a drunk and has always gone after men that are bad for her, she is doomed to, at least in some ways, repeat her mother’s mistakes. She can’t ever see herself as someone who deserves to be loved or respected for her own sake. Lexi knows that she’s making bad choices, but she can’t seem to stop herself from making them anyway – she just feels like she needs to hide them from her friends. On the other hand, Lexi places her longtime crush, Ben, and his cousin, Emily, on pedestals. They can do no wrong in her eyes, and she doesn’t feel worthy of them. As the book progresses, Lexi realizes that she hasn’t been giving herself (or certain other people) enough credit – and that she’s been idolizing her friends when they didn’t really deserve it!
- Complex, messy families. The family relationships in this book are extremely complicated. Lexi’s mother hasn’t exactly been a good mother – she gets drunk and she puts her various scummy boyfriends above Lexi. Lexi’s strongest familial relationships are actually with her neighbors, who practically raised her, in every way that counted. She finds comfort and love with them. When she finds out that her father (who her mother has always told her was probably dead because he was a drug addict) is alive and well and wants to reconnect with her, things get even more confusing. Lexi doesn’t know if she wants to build a relationship with the man who abandoned her, even if he doesn’t seem to be everything her mother told her. What I loved about all of the family relationships in this book was that there were no pat answers – no absolute good guys and bad guys in Lexi’s history. In fact, one of my favorite quotes from the book was this, incredibly true statement about how nothing is black and white:
“There were two sides to everything and everyone, and somewhere in the middle was the truth.”
- Consequences. This book stressed the idea that we all make mistakes and that people shouldn’t be judged only on their bad choices, but I also appreciated that the book showed that choices do have consequences. Like I said, at first I thought that the book was condoning Lexi’s choices to smoke (cigarettes and occasionally weed), get wasted and have sex with a guy she didn’t even like. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book, to be honest. But, as the story went on, we started to see real consequences and Lexi started to change her behaviors – not for her friends or for the sake of “doing the right things,” but for herself. The book also showed one of the possible consequences of casual sex through Shelby, who got pregnant after a condom mishap. There was absolutely no judgement of Shelby (in fact, I think that she was one of the best characters in the book and was portrayed really positively), but she acknowledged the fact that her choice to sleep with an unreliable (and not so great) guy had tied her to him forever. There were consequences. I could list lots of other examples of this too, but this biggest ones were just about the way Lexi felt about herself when she made really miserable choices – choices that made her feel like she was following in her mother’s footsteps. She needed to learn that she was in control of her own life and that she didn’t need to live it for anyone else – and that she could choose to believe in herself and pull herself out of bad circumstances. The main theme of the book was really that no one’s perfect, and that’s okay – but we need to do the best we can in our situations. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I just don’t have the words, so I’ll move on …
- I was nervous about Tyler. Okay, so Tyler was a bad boy with a heart of gold, and I really did end up loving him eventually, but I was definitely worried at first. He gave me a really bad feeling, especially considering Lexi’s circumstances and family history. There was a part of me that thought he really might be nothing but bad for her – even though I knew I was supposed to be sympathizing with him. He was a drug-dealer, for goodness sake! (And, yes, I have issues with drug use because of someone close to me who dealt with this – and not well. Casual drug use is not something I can ever really get behind.) Lexi’s friends should have been discouraging her when they had an inkling that something was going on between her and Tyler – not that they needed to be nasty about it, but warning Lexi to stay away in and of itself was not being judgmental. (Teenagers everywhere – it’s okay to try to convince your friends not to put themselves in dangerous situations!) It wasn’t until Tyler started to turn himself around in addition to showing how much he cared about Lexi that I started to breathe a sigh of relief. The ultimate message of the book was that Tyler needed to change before he was relationship material (just like, even more so, Lexi’s dad needed to change before he could be in her life). This ultimate message redeemed things for me.
Faking Perfect is about discovering who you truly are, apart from what others think of you, and about learning to live with life’s imperfections. The book touches on a lot of really intense topics, but I think that it handles them extremely well. And, best of all, it had me thinking long after I put the book down. To me, that is the sign of a fantastic book! I give this one 4.5/5 stars!
***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Rebecca Phillips has been a fan of contemporary young adult fiction ever since she first discovered Judy Blume at the age of twelve. After a brief stint writing bad poetry as a teenager, she finally found her niche with realistic, coming‑of‑age YA. Her third novel, OUT OF NOWHERE, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She’s also the author of the best-selling JUST YOU series. Her next YA novel, FAKING PERFECT (Kensington), is set to be released on June 30, 2015.
Rebecca lives just outside the beautiful city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband, two children, and one spoiled rotten cat. She absolutely loves living so close to the ocean. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found vacuuming up cat hair, spending time with her family, watching reality TV, reading all different genres of books, or strolling around the bookstore with a vanilla latte in her hand.