(Finding Perfect #1)
by Kendra C. Highley
For "Perfect Paige" Westfeld, today is "D" Day. As in, she just got one on her calculus test. With her dreams of Stanford, her reputation, and her parents' expectations at stake, Paige needs to find a way to save face before everything she's worked for goes up in flames.
Ben Franklin (yes, he's related) is from the wrong side of town, with the wrong clothes and the wrong kind of life. He also knows an opportunity when he sees one, and he'll be happy to tutor Paige-if she makes him into the kind of guy her best friend, the hottest girl in school, will date. It's the perfect arrangement. And Paige is determined not even the inconvenient-and utterly imperfect-attraction simmering between her and Ben will ruin it...
Finding Perfect is a contemporary romance book in a high school setting that didn't make my eyes roll so much from all the hormones and drama. It's practically like a breath of fresh air. It's not just relatable, it points out something that actually matters in real life -- one that is not far fetched.
It didn't start out as a bright light that outshone other contemporary YAs out there. It's kinda generic but that's not the entirety of it. Paige is nicknamed "Perfect Paige" for a reason. She get good grades, she participates in a lot of extracurricular activities, she's focused, she works hard, she get things done. Pretty, popular, and smart. And that's just not talk, either. I loved that this book maintained that character for her and not just made her supposedly smart and pretty who makes idiotic choices after 5 pages blah, blah, blah. I hate when that happens. Anyway, the story starts to unfold when Paige gets a D in calculus, which is bad not only because it would ruin her perfect reputation but also her chances of getting accepted into Stanford. Enter Ben Franklin who witnesses her in an embarrassing situation in the middle of her mini heart-attack. Upon knowing her problem, he offers to tutor Paige in exchange for a date with her best friend, Zoey, the most popular girl in their school.
I adore all the major characters: Paige, Ben, and Zoey. It’s not just that Paige is smart -- people always turn to her when they need something done because she’s dependable. Even her dad tells her it's not normal for a girl her age to be loaded with that much responsibility and stress. And Ben, despite his cliche character as someone who wants in with the popular crowd, really just wants to spend his senior year unnoticed. Which is fine. We've all seen in movies, read in books, and maybe even experienced in real life how being popular is not all it's cracked up to be. It can be good, it can be bad, but either way, who effin' cares. Let the guy experience it and decide for himself. I really like him! He's sweet, smart, and a hard worker. He's great with his mom, too. Paige and Ben's relationship is pretty straightforward. There isn't too much drama in the romance department. I loved the relationship that developed between the two of them. It is what it is. Not too many twist and turns. That isn't what this book is all about, anyway.
At first sight, Zoey is your typical queen bee. The type of girl in every story people are quick to stereotype. She is Paige's bestfriend. When guys talk to Paige, it's always something about Zoey. The girl everyone loves. She's gorgeous, fun, popular, smart... homecoming queen, student council president... I even thought she'd turn out to be the backstabbing sort of bestfriend in the end. I'm sorry, I couldn't help it! I've read too many scenarios like that -- friendships destroyed over small things that could easily have been nothing (ugh it's a terrible trope). BUT I LOVED ZOEY. This just shows how people doesn’t really know someone from the way they look or their social status. She can’t help the way she is but she’s such a genuine girl. I know she loves Paige like a sister. She's supportive and cares about her without being overbearing. Talk about a wonderful friend to have.
I loved the portrayal of Paige's family dynamic. Her parents push her to be the best she can be. They aren't perfect but she loves them. She genuinely wants to follow in her dad's footsteps but "D" Day and recent experiences was kind of an eye-opener for her, making her think about her choices and what it is that she REALLY wants. We all know how hard it is to talk to our parents. No matter how close you are to them, how supportive they are of you, there are things that takes courage to say in front of them. We are afraid of rejection and disappointment. But at the end of the day, most parents just want what is best for you and they show that the only way they know how without really realizing that they are sacrificing your happiness or hurting you in the process. And how would they know what you are feeling when you don't say anything and just go along with their plans anyway? It's communication on both ends. Learn to talk and listen, and don't assume you know everything. Stand up for what you want unless, ya know, it's to lead the life of crime instead or something. Parent's still know what's best sometimes. They've had a lot of experience. It won't hurt to get tips from them.
Can you tell I adored Finding Perfect? LOL I haven't written a review this long in a while. I had a lot to say and it ends with: go read this book! I am so excited to read the sequel, Defying Gravity, which is about Zoey! :) I hope it's just as great as Finding Perfect. BEN IS TOTES DREAMY by the way, if I haven't said that already.