Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cracked Up to Be
Title: Cracked Up to Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date of Publication: December 23, 2008

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.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I won a copy from author Marie Landry. Thank you so much, Marie! This in no way affected my views of the novel.

I've been wanting to lose my Courtney Summers virgin card for the longest time. And then came along Ciara @ Lost at Midnight's Courtney Summers read-along for all of her books and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to lose said card. Then when I won Marie's giveaway for a book in TBD, I grabbed the chance to have a copy of Cracked Up to Be. And it was like crack, alright.

I started reading it one morning when I got early to work. Suffice to say it was a very unproductive work day with sneaking in chapters and all. Granted, I only read when I had nothing to do but there was this itch that needed to be scratched. Once I started the novel, I couldn't stop and I finished it the same day. Sure, it was a short read but the narrative was addicting and that was because of our main character, Parker.

Although I was excited to finally read my first Courtney Summers book, I was equally afraid as well. I read somewhere that she writes unlikable characters and I find it hard to like a book if I can't even tolerate the character. Diving into Cracked Up to Be, my fear was proven right. Parker is certainly not your adorable, kind and sweet heroine. She's indifferent and inconsiderate. But while you won't fall over her because she's good, you'll fall over her because she reels you in. You can't help but gravitate towards Parker like the new boy, Jake. She's not good for you, she has issues, she doesn't want help, she doesn't like anyone, she doesn't care about anyone. But like a moth to a flame, you can't help but reach out to her and want to get to know her more. Like Jake, maybe we're all into her because she's different. I actually think that's true. And as Jake said as well, he hates how much he's curious and attracted to Parker because of all people, why her? It's like he's signing up for heartbreak because let's face it, Parker's a grade A jerk and a bitch. But there's always a reason, right? That's the second reason why Cracked Up to Be is a book you won't be able to put down.

The mystery to why Parker fell down from grace - from being the most popular girl in school to her current status of failing classes and going to class hungover - played a large part in me flying through this book's pages. I just want to know what happened before and why it caused Parker to change. What. was. it? Summers achieved this by suddenly stopping the present narrative to let us see a glimpse of what happened before. The gradual build-up was addicting and I just want to know more! I may have had skipped some pages one time, snatch, more than one time, to read ahead and then gladly go back to where I was reading when I was able to scratch the itch. That was how much I wanted to know what happened. Props to Courtney for achieving that.

I don't know if it's just my romance-loving self but the ending, while utterly realistic, kind of bummed me out. I love Chris, Parker's ex-boyfriend, and the new boy Jake both, which made me ballistic who should I ship with her. Lemme say that I take ships seriously. Both were really sweet and honest with Parker and where are these boys in my life? But Courtney writes unidealized characters so even these guys aren't perfect. Whew. I love my book boyfriends but sometimes, they're too good to be true. Anyway, so the ending, which I greatly appreciate because that's how I think it happens in real life, still made me pout. But that's a minor qualm so let's not dwell on it!

Many authors cite Courtney Summers as their inspiration to write (looking at you Daisy Whitney) and many have nothing but praises for her realistic portrayal of characters. I agree with all of them. Courtney Summers isn't afraid to write a main character you won't like but she also has the talent and skill to make you like said character even though your mind tells you that no, she's a bitch. THAT is a feat. I would like to thank Courtney Summers for inspiring all of these authors to write. <3

Cracked Up to Be was like crack - addicting. You will keep reaching for it, wanting to read it and get a hit. I recommend this to anyone who reads YA as I believe you should read what inspired others.

About Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers can't wait for the zombie apocalypse. Also she is the author of CRACKED UP TO BE and SOME GIRLS ARE, FALL FOR ANYTHING and THIS IS NOT A TEST, four edgy young adult novels published by St. Martin's Press.


  1. Book boyfriends? The boys were too good to be true? But that's the point! That we readers - who take our team seriously and wave our banner furiously - would be torn. :) kidding aside, I love your review. Well justified. ;)

    Precious @ Fragments of Life

    1. Nope. I mean, most of my book boyfriends sound perfect and it makes me think that they don't exist in real life. (Yeah, they don't.) But here, the boys were great while still being believably real. That's what I meant to say. Haha! Thanks for dropping by, Precious!

  2. After the first book I read by Courtney Summers, I went out and found every other book that I could possibly find by her and read them in quick succession. This was one of them, and I loved it. It was heartbreaking in so many ways, as her books are, and incredibly hard to read, again as her books just... ARE. But I loved each of them, and she is easily one of those authors that I will always read. Her writing, her imagination, her characters, are just that good!

    1. I haven't read any other book of hers but they're all on the top of my list. Yes, it was so hard to read but I couldn't stop reading. I'm ready to read more from Courtney because this is definitely how I want my YA - realistic and raw. Thanks for dropping by, Jaime!


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