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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Almost Perfect* by Brian Katcher- young adult book review  
Almost Perfect
by Brian Katcher
Grades 8+ 368 pages Delacorte October 2009 Hardcover    

What would you do if someone you thought you knew revealed a secret that changed everything? Would you stick by them? Would you turn on them? I think weíd all be quick to say weíd stick by them, but how do you really know? This is one of the questions Brian Katcher addresses in his fantastic novel Almost Perfect.

I approached Almost Perfect feeling a little unexcited. Sure, the cover was interesting and the story sounded pleasant enough: heartbroken Logan Witherspoon canít get over his ex-girlfriend, but then a Ďquirkyí girl from out of town walks through the school doors and changes Loganís life forever, etc. Wrong.

My first error may have been not actually reading the entire blurb on the inside cover. I must confess, I read the first couple of lines, assumed it would be the standard high school love story and began to read. Big mistake on my part, because Almost Perfect is one of the most delicately written, beautifully executed stories Iíve read in a very long time.

At first, I still had reservations about the story. Logan is a great narrator and brings the story to life, but by the end of the first couple of chapters I was already bored of his pining after Brenda. However, once Sage comes into the picture, things certainly change for the better. Sheís smart, unique, and brilliantly written.

Itís Katcherís stark honesty that I really love about this story. When Logan finds out Sageís secret, the way he reacts is horrible but - I think if weíre all honest - itís the way anybody would react. Logan is only human, and even though it isnít pleasant to read, itís better than a fake story where the emotions and reactions are forced.

Itís a complex situation for anybody to be in and something that I havenít read much about, especially not in young adult fiction. The issue (sadly) still is taboo, but brilliant authors like Brian Katcher are helping. Katcher writes with a softness that I never expected; one of my favorite passages shows this perfectly:
ĎEveryone has that one line they swear theyíll never cross, the one thing they say theyíll never do. Not something serious like Iíll never kill anyone or Iíll never invade Russia in the winter. Usually itís something less earth-shattering.
Iíll never cheat on her.
Iíll never work at a job I hate.
Iíll never give up my dreams.
We draw the line. Maybe we even believe it. Thatís why itís so hard when we break that promise we make to ourselves.

Sage Hendricks was my line.í
Inevitably, during the closing chapter, I cried. Itís not exactly difficult to make me cry, but this story really struck a chord even though the issues in this book have never affected me. At some points I actually came away feeling angry. Itís only a really powerful story that can change your emotions like that. Katcherís note at the end of the novel is something Iím really glad he included, a sweet addition - make sure you donít miss it.

The book is rated as suitable for ages 14+, and although there are a lot of complicated emotions and issues there, I do agree. Itís important that situations like the one Sage is in arenít hidden from younger readers.

If you look forward to any recently released book, it should be Almost Perfect. Seek it out. Itís a beautiful, touching story that will stay with you for a long time after youíve finished reading.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Carly Bennett/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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