BOOK REVIEW: Cracked Up to Be, by Courtney Summers

RELEASE DATE: December 23, 2008
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin (an imprint of MacMillan)
FORMAT: E-book
PAGE COUNT: 214 pages
SOURCE: Purchased

CHALLENGE: 2012 Canadian Reading Challenge

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.


This book was a bizarre little read for me. It was my first taste of Courtney Summers, a Canadian author who is now releasing her fourth book, This Is Not A Test, and definitely won’t be my last. 

Why was it so bizarre for me? Probably because it had one of those really annoying main characters who I just couldn’t relate to and just couldn’t like, which wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, the main character wants to be alone, she doesn’t want to be liked, she doesn’t want you to relate to her, and she doesn’t want to divulge any information to you. This is probably the first book where I didn’t like the main character, but I knew there was something deeper, some unknown reason as to why she didn’t want me to like her, and I just had to get to the bottom of it.

Courtney Summers really is a wonderful writer. She had me right from the first pages and it was like I was being told a secret, bit by bit, that little bit of mystery adding to the story of the main character, Parker, who was once a straight-A student, but is now seeing the school therapist, was caught drinking in school, and pretty much went from being on top of the popularity ladder to the very bottom. And she’s not eve one of the people holding the ladder — she’s standing in the corner scoffing at those who are helping.

I have to admit that when I first saw this book, I thought it was going to be a lighter read than it was. I assumed that it would be a book about high school and the troubles of a lowly teen — troubles which don’t even seem like trouble at all. But it was so much more than that. There was a darkness to the backstory of the book. As the reader, I knew something had happened, and I knew it wasn’t good — I really, really wanted to figure out what it was, and I really wanted the main character to just open up to someone and to shed some light on what was going on.

This book was very well written and there was some really wonderful characters. I loved how the relationships evolved — both past and present — as the book went on and I really liked how Parker’s parents knew something was up and were trying to reach out to her only to be shot down again and again. It’s a story that is so real that it’ll have you paying extra attention to the people in your life, to see if they might be hiding something, harbouring some deep secret.

This really was a great read — it’s short and not-so-sweet, and it’ll keep you guessing until the end. Courtney Summers has given her readers a great debut and I hope to read more of her books in the future!

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.


4 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Cracked Up to Be, by Courtney Summers

  1. Pingback: Sunday Reads: Volume 35 «

  2. Pingback: CANADA DAY: The Canadian Reading Challenge, July 1-31 «

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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