Elizabeth Scott’s second novel is just as poignant and addictive to read as her well-reviewed debut, BLOOM --- perhaps even more so. In the year since BLOOM’s publication, Scott has clearly honed her skills, crafting a tighter story that fluently captures the anxieties of talking to (let alone trusting) a first crush, the self-deprecation and anguish of losing a best friend, and the bemusement that comes with having to parent…your parents.
But what does all of this have to do with vitamins?
It all started when Kate’s father quit his job at a prestigious software company because his desk had broken in half. He figured it was a sign. Not even a month later, he cashed in his retirement fund to purchase boxes full of infomercial vitamins called “Perfect You.” His plan? To buy a booth at the mall and sell them to anyone who would take the bait --- with Kate’s help, of course.
So instead of going to parties with her friends and cheering for her boyfriend on the basketball team, Kate is stuck trying to hide her mortification when her father wears his B-Buzz vitamin bee costume during her shift, or worse yet, when he gets thrown out of the Sports Shack for pushing vitamins on their customers. But wait. Kate doesn’t have a boyfriend. Nor does she have any friends aside from the three Jennifers who are so busy competing to be each other’s best friend that they barely notice her.
Granted, Kate’s life hadn’t always been so terrible. Prior to her sophomore year, she spent every waking second with her best friend, Anna, who never seemed to care what anyone else thought --- at least not until hunky Sam, the boy Anna had been in love with for forever, called her a “wide load.”
After that, everything changed. Anna came back from her summer in Maine, determined to be a different person. She was blonde, 70 pounds thinner and suddenly popular, which, of course, meant No More Kate. So for the first few months of 10th grade, Kate spends every day alone --- that is, until Sam’s cute friend, Will, kisses her behind the dumpsters at the mall.
In the chapters that follow, Kate bumbles through a series of crushing setbacks (Anna delivers one too many blows to her dwindling self-worth, her parents separate due to her father’s seemingly endless mid-life crisis, Will asks her out on a date --- to humiliate her?) before ultimately crumbling in defeat.
But, as those who liked Scott’s first novel are aware, Kate’s story is far from over despite the trauma she has endured, and readers will breeze through the last few chapters with genuine pleasure.
PERFECT YOU has just the right combination of humor, charm and weight to satisfy old fans and win over new ones. Its rich characters --- especially haughty but wise Grandma --- are brimming with quirky idiosyncrasies meant to both irritate and please. Like in BLOOM, Scott navigates familial dysfunction and teen melodrama with aplomb, and teens will eat up what develops when Kate and Will finally “get real” at the end.
Reviewed by Alexis Burling on October 18, 2011
- Publication Date: March 25, 2008
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 282 pages
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- ISBN-10: 1416953558
- ISBN-13: 9781416953555