Parker Fadley is a Bitch. Once at the top of her high school’s social hierarchy–cheerleading captain, aspiring valedictorian, the girl everyone want to be or be with–Parker is now doing her best to become the antithesis of all she was. Despite her day drinking, indifference towards classes, and outright alienating behavior, people just won’t give up on her. Not her parents, not her school counselor, not her ex-boyfriend or ex-friend, and not the new guy at school who has taken an interest in Parker despite their terrible first encounter. They all want to know: why is she doing this to herself?

The answer to that is glimpsed through snippets of a night the summer before Parker decided to beeline her way to isolation. These disjointed and overlapping flashbacks paint a portrait of a teenage girl obsessed with perfection on the one night she decides to let loose and relinquish control. In the present, Parker uses her sarcasm, caustic personality, and blatant mean comments to ensure no one can get close enough to her to discover the truth.

Even though Parker has all the makings of an extremely unlikable character, I loved her. Courtney Summers does a fantastic job of creating these incredibly nuanced and flawed characters that feel a lot more true to life than what is often seen in contemporary novels. Parker is contrary. One minute she sneers at her ex-boyfriend for not being over her, but as soon as it seems he has moved on she is angered and upset. She mocks her old cheerleading teammate but also sets her up with the guy she likes. She is mean and disdainful to the new boy in school, but also looks forward to spending time with him. Despite all this, Parker’s characterization didn’t feel choppy or lacking in coherence. Instead, it felt like a fully fleshed out portrait of a troubled girl. With all her flaws, I was rooting for Parker the whole way through.

One last comment: Parker’s narration was a delight to read. Because she no longer cares for her reputation, the girl has no filter and isn’t afraid to say shocking statements and has a whole lot of hilarious internal monologue. Some examples:

He has the audacity to ignore me, sets his book bag on his lap and rummages through it. After a minute, he pulls out a folded sheet of paper and hands it to me.
I unfold it. ‘A love letter? How sweet.’
‘No.’ He turns pink. ‘It’s just something I found on the Internet-‘
‘Porn? You shouldn’t have.’

and

Cardboard cutouts of cheerleaders operated by arthritic monkeys would move more fluidly.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book!

4.5 stars.

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4 thoughts on “Claire’s Reviews | Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

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