CRACKED UP TO BE is pretty much perfect. It's a short but dense read that will keep you impatiently engrossed in Parker's convoluted world, unable to tear yourself away until you find out what happened to make Parker deteriorate so much.
Of course, it is Parker who carries the novel, Parker who makes me love this book. One of the most difficult things for a writer to do is to create characters who are not necessarily likable but still make readers empathize with them. Parker and all her friends are such characters. They are the most popular people at their high school--something I, along with most of us, have never experienced--but even so they are bitchy, emotional, hurt, in love, in lust, manipulative--in short, relatable, complex, and one hundred percent real.
The novel is set up in a way that we don't find out about what's been eating at Parker until the very end, and the setup is wonderfully appropriate, for it allows us to focus on the character development while being intrigued by the backstory. I said that this book is pretty much perfect, and not just in the foundations, like the characters and the plot. Courtney Summers is also a writing master: she writes in an unassuming, straightforward prose that doesn't beat around the bush. That's the way Parker talks also; she gets straight to the point in wonderfully sarcastic lines.
All in all...does this review even need a conclusion? Are you confused about how I feel about this novel? Run out and buy it right now!
Cracked Up to Be, by Courtney Summers, is a book about a girl named Parker, who has dropped from the popular ranks among high school students to become a self-made outcast. Or at least, she wants to be. She works hard to keep people from liking her by pushing them away, drinking too much, and failing her classes. But why the change? Although it looks like a lightweight teen romance, Cracked Up to Be is anything but, dealing with serious subjects such as rape, kidnapping, drinking, and suicide. I found it to be an easy read, despite the heavy subjects, and one I was unable to put down until I finished. Summers deals with these difficult subjects well; the writing isn't stiff, stupid or preachy. The characters are developed well enough (for this type of book) and the dialog is realistic. The ending is realistic and satisfying, even though things are left up in the air a bit. I recommend this book only to older teens (or young adults) due to the heavy subject matter and strong language.
When I picked this book up I was expecting something easy & fun. It was anything but. Although the main character is witty & humorous at times, the more serious issues in the book made it hard for me to laugh. Don't get me wrong it was a great story with some unexpected shockers, just not what I was expecting.