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Perfect: A Novel Hardcover – September 16, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions (September 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571316523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571316523
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,216,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Eighth-grader Isabelle Lee describes her not-so-perfect life. She is dealing with her father's death and her grieving mother by bingeing and purging. On the surface, everything is fine until Isabelle's younger sister catches her in the bathroom making herself throw up. "Eating Disorder and Body Image Therapy Group" is the consequence. Isabelle is amazed when she discovers that the most popular girl in her grade is also at the first session. Through encounters in Group and at school, she begins to realize that all is not fine, even for seemingly perfect people. As the book ends, she is not completely cured but is beginning to learn how to deal with her grief in a more positive way by journaling and talking about her feelings. Friend combines believable characters and real-life situations into a fine novel that addresses common adolescent issues. Teenagers, even reluctant readers, will find the outcome satisfying.–Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Thirteen-year-old Isabelle Lee's family is reeling from the recent death of her beloved father when little sister April (aka Ape Face) finds Isabelle purging her dinner in the bathroom. Isabelle is sent to group therapy for her eating disorder, where she is shocked to discover that her school's most "perfect" and popular girl, Ashley Barnum, is also bulimic. Ashley is delighted to find a likeminded classmate, and she takes the previously unpopular Isabelle under her wing, inviting her to the exclusive lunch table and to sleepovers where they consume and then expel mountains of food. Isabelle's grief and anger are movingly and honestly portrayed, and her eventual empathy for her mother is believable and touching. Through Isabelle's wry tone and clear eye for hypocrisy, Friend elevates what could have been just another problem novel to a truly worthwhile read of great interest to many girls. Debbie Carton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Natasha Friend was born to an English professor father and a poet/actress mother. She was raised in a house without a television. At the time, she thought this was the worst form of child abuse. Now, she understands the method to her parents' madness: they wanted her to be a reader.

Spending most of her childhood at the Hamilton Public Library, Natasha found her mecca, the young-adult section, and her hero, Judy Blume. She, too, wanted to write stories about girls who felt alone. Girls whose parents were screw-ups. Girls with spunk and spirit and resolve.

Natasha began dictating stories to her father, who typed them up on his 1930's Remington typewriter. Most involved rainbows, unicorns, and poor orphan girls discovering treasure.

She knew she was supposed to be a writer in seventh grade, when a sweet boy gave her a love poem and she felt compelled to correct it for syntax and rhyme scheme.

Today, Natasha is the award-winning author of Perfect, Lush, Bounce, For Keeps, and My Life in Black and White.

When she isn't writing, she is building forts and making chocolate-chip pancakes.

Natasha lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her husband, three children, and dog, Beckett.

Visit her at

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for women of all ages.
Mieka F. Wick
This book can give young people insight into the nature of eating disorders through a compassionate story without at all being preachy.
Amazon Customer
From the beginning to the end, I was hooked on this book(although i didnt really like the ending).
J. Tyler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This was a hard book for me to review because I had an eating disorder when I was a teenager. Only in those days there was no knowledge to be had of eating disorders let alone help and support. You were just told to go on a diet. I remember a particularly nasty one where I could only eat grapefruit, hardboiled eggs, plain toast, and salad without dressing. Yet I was determined to look good in my cinch waisted skirt with layers of petticoats like all the popular girls in school.

I'm sure this is how the protagonist Isabelle Lee in Perfect feels. You'd do anything to feel good, not only in your clothes, but inside your vulnerable self. Isabelle's eating disorder is Bulimia: eat, purge, eat, purge. How else can she cover her feelings about her father's death, her mother's denial of it, and her seeming lack of popularity in her eighth grade class? To her horror her younger sister discovers Isabelle vomiting. Her mother makes her go to an eating disorder group for girls her age. To her amazement the most popular girl in school, Ashley Barnum, is there in group as well. Ashley's disorder is that of taking laxatives. They bond together to go through the stages of recovery filled with distrust, shifting friendships, courage, and finally confidence. Along the way Isabelle helps her sister and her mother face their grief, just by being more sure of who she really is.

Eating disorders are all too common in younger and younger children in our society, ranging from rampant obesity to anorexia. Perfect describes in page turning novel form how young girls can find help and support in eating disorder groups where confidentiality, mentors, and understanding of their disorder offer deep encouragement and healing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marti Muller on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Perfect is the story of thirteen year old Bella, whose father recently died. His death transformed her mother into a weepy, whiny woman who is incapable of putting her own grief aside to mother her children. Bella's annoying younger sister, April, is constantly annoying Bella, but deep down she is a vulnerable girl who doesn't know how to deal with her father's death.

The real story begins when Bella is caught throwing up by her younger sister April, who promptly rats her out when Bella refuses to give April her bike (caring, isn't she?). While in eating disorder rehab, Bella discovers Ashley, one of the most popular girls in school, also has bulimia. In exchange for Ashley's silence, Ashley befriends Bella and lets her sit at the popular table. Sadly, that is as deep as the stpry gets.

Bella is bulimic largely because of the stress she endures at home. While bulimic acts are sometimes triggered by emotions, a large part of it is weight and self-esteem issues. Perfect never deals with body consciousness and completely ignores that side of the issue. The book glosses over Bella's therapy and instead chooses to focus on Bella's friendship with Ashley. What makes this story even more annoying is that their friendship is not believable. Bella only wants to be friends with Ashley because she's beautiful and popular, and Ashley wants to save her reputation. Friend never fully develops any of the others girls in rehab or Bella's 'best' friends, who are mentioned maybe five or six times in the book. Even Ashley is a flat, static, character. The other 'main' characters (who are still not mentioned as often as Ashley is) are Bella's mom and sister, and they are both incredibly irritating by the end of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I really loved this book! Its about a thirteen year old girl named Isabelle Lee. Her father died about two years ago, and nothing has been okay since then. She has a depressed mother who cries herself to sleep and an annoying, lonely little sister. The thing is, nobody ever talks about the problems they have. Isabelle and her family try to pretend everything's always perfect, even when it's not. Sadness about her father leads Isabelle into binging and purging. When her little sister catches her making herself throw up, her mom makes her go to an eating disorder therapy group for teen girls. isabelle is shocked to see ashley, the most popular, "perfect" girl in school there. the two become good friends and they binge and purge together. Isabelle learns that Ashley's life is far from perfect. Even though Ashley seems so "together" on the outside, she struggles with body image, family issues, and schoolwork. I won't spoil the ending for you, but let's just say that Isabelle learns a lot of things. One, she learns that just because someone looks perfect on the outside, it doesn't always mean everything's okay for that person (like Ashley.) She also learns that saying everything is "fine" is just a coverup, and it's important to talk about things and not keep feelings bottled up. The author, Natalie Friend, is an incredible writer who seems to know exactly how teens think. Her words will make you laugh, cry, and pray for Natalie's family. I recommend this book for anyone in middle or high school. It's a really fantastic book!
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