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Cracked Up to Be Paperback – Bargain Price, July 20, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Parker Fadley has it all-head cheerleader, honor roll student, Winter Ball Queen, perfect boyfriend, Chris. Then at a wild "school's out" party, she catches her friend Jessica's boyfriend kissing another girl and tells Jessica, who retaliates by hooking up with an older guy who crashed the party. The next day Jessica is missing, and Parker, suspecting that she could have done something to help her, nosedives into a downward spiral, drinking heavily, and attempting suicide in a motel room. All of this is revealed in flashback as Parker begins her senior year at her Catholic high school. She cuts class, goes to school drunk, ignores assignments, and goes out of her way to make everyone leave her alone. New guy Jake, intrigued by her self-destructive determination to be ostracized, persists in trying to get inside her head. The problem is that what's inside Parker's head is a fear she can't even admit to herself—that she knows what happened to Jessica and could have stopped it. Summers creates a gritty world of teenagers living on the edge, complete with explosive interactions and rocky relationships without getting mired in angst. Parker narrates the story, darkly fascinating in her turmoil as she slowly lets herself remember details from the drunken night of Jessica's disappearance. In her relationships with Jake, Chris, archrival Becky, her parents, and even her dog, Parker struggles with self-revulsion and a desperate need for love and acceptance. Marked by explicit language and frank sexuality, this compelling read is taut with tension.—Joyce Adams Burner, formerly at Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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"Courtney Summers is a writer who pulls no punches and Parker Fadley is a character you won't forget.  Together, they create a novel that will keep you on edge, turning pages long into the night."
--K.L Going, author of Saint Iggy
"Told in beautifully rendered, spare, haunting prose...Courtney Summers has written a remarkable debut.  I thought about this one long after I'd reached the end,"
--Alyson Noël, author of Saving Zoë
"Summers expertly navigates the dangerous waters of high school, leading her readers on until she reveals the grim secret that led her troubled heroine to the brink of suicide. Fans of Lois Duncan and Chrisotpher Pike will appreciate this dark tale."
--Martha O'Connor, author of Bitch Posse
"Cracked Up To Be gives you Parker, her world, her friends, straight up, no chaser.  You won't forget her."
--Kathe Koja author of Kissing The Bee

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (July 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002MAQT4W
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada. She is the author of several novels for young adults including CRACKED UP TO BE, THIS IS NOT A TEST and ALL THE RAGE.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Mint910 VINE VOICE on December 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have no idea how to express my feelings about this book. It's powerful, emotional, important, and really spoke to me.

The book takes place a good time after some sort of upsetting event has occurred. Everyone has gotten over it to the best they could except for Parker and that's because she finds herself guilty for some reason and no one else knows about it.

When reading this book you literally see Parker fighting with her memories. Everyday things bring up the memories of that night and we only get a little taste before they are pushed back out of her mind. Because of the way this is written you can't put the book down and also can't pinpoint what this upsetting event is. You can guess, but you are probably wrong.

I was so wrapped up in this book that in the end when that night is fully explained and I found out just what has happened, I sat up and said out loud, "Oh My God" for me that moment of understanding Parker was very powerful. Everything came full circle and I found myself identifying (to a less severe degree) with her feelings of guilt and loss of control.

This book is amazing. Just read it, immediately. I could talk about the tons of other things I liked, like Parker's sassy Veronica Mars-like attitude, the great secondary characters etc. but I rather you read the book and fall in love with it just the way I did!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on January 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Parker Fadley is brash, rude, and intent on alienating everyone around her, from her parents to her friend and ex-boyfriend, to the new kid, Jake, and her former cheerleading squad members. Yet the ruder she is, the more people take a liking to her, and even her teachers and guidance counselor give her many second chances. Why she acts the way she does is revealed in flashbacks in this excellent novel, and even as we find out what has made Parker the way she is, we still cheer for her.

The slowly unraveling mystery/crime story is shown as Parker starts to collapse, her carefully crafted world falling apart. It's often hard to tell what she really feels because she's so busy trying to keep those who care about her at bay, with plans to escape. She hates herself so much, yet doesn't do much to make herself likable.

Courtney Summers has written an outstanding first novel with an unusual, guilt-ridden heroine who is dealing with issues far beyond her years. She's tender and tough and when she is forced to confront her feelings, whether for Jake, Chris, or her dog Bailey, she starts to slowly crumble. As she owns up to her feelings, as dark and ugly as they are, she starts to see that there is life beyond that one fateful night. I don't want to give too much away, but this book is definitely worth reading, but be prepared to read straight through.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lori VINE VOICE on January 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't know if this would have been a book that I would have picked up on my own. I bought it because of all the great ratings and reviews. I wanted to love it I really did just didn't work out that way.

The writing was superb. I had no problems with that. Courtney Summers is very talented. To enjoy this book fully you had to sympathize with the main character, Parker. I found it very hard to sympathize with her. Almost impossible. She pushes everyone away and then gets upset that she has no one. She is mean to everyone and she acts pretty disturbed throughout the entire book. Which I understand is the point but I just could not like her. I tried! And I kept asking myself through the book, "Why is no one sending this girl to a shrink?!"

The plot moves along swiftly. You get Parker's back story in small snippets and flashbacks. The whole story doesn't come out until the very end of the book and then every positive feeling I had about Parker went out the window. I'm not going to spoil anything. Just read the book.

Overall, I really didn't know how I felt about this book. Like I said Summers is a very talented author but I could not rate the book too high because I didn't like Parker. I think everyone should still give this book a chance. Don't let my review change your mind. Most people love it. I just have mixed feelings.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yan on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Definitely enjoyed the pace throughout the book; very concise, clean and well-organized.

I'm sure this has been said many times but really the mystery aspect of this book was so well done. A small bit here and a small bit there and at the end you're like "OMG!"

I loved almost all the characters. Seriously. Parker was so three-dimensional; she had her ups and her downs. You get a definite feel as to why she's like the way she is. The rest of the side characters were as equally impressive. They each held their ground against and with Parker. Their personalities and traits are very realistic and not too over the top. I almost forgot Bailey! The adorable dog that I want as my own.

I greatly appreciated the small backgrounds Courtney gave. Sometimes authors never include these things and I'm always dying to know how and why these characters came to be.

The dialogue was fun as well. You can feel the snarky attitude and the tension/awkwardness it created. It was straight forward and to the point when it wanted to be.

This book is definitely not something that eases you into. Right from the start you're enclosed in a whirlwind of emotions. Jump right in; just remember that it's hard to escape once you've started. Trust me, I had a hard time getting started but once I got the feel of the book I couldn't stop.

A great read for the fall or winter season. Much deeper than your typically YA book. Something to pick on your way from the bookstore or the library!
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