Title: You Asked For Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.
Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.
Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
When I first read Girl Out of Water, Laura Silverman’s debut, I completely fell in love with it. It was (and still is), one of my favorite contemporaries ever and I’ve been calling Laura Silverman one of my favorite authors ever since. So when I first saw the announcement for this book, I was absolutely ecstatic. Not just because we were going to get a new book by this author I love so much, but also because we were getting a book that deals with academic pressure, a topic that is incredibly important and that I haven’t seen a lot of books deal with.
So, you can probably believe that when I received the ‘you’ve been accepted for this ARC’ e-mail from Edelweiss I jumped into this book within a few days. I did hesitate a bit at first, knowing that my expectations were through the roof and being a bit scared that I’d end up being disappointed, but I ended up falling in love with this book from the start, and devouring it in just a few days.
This book is about Ariel, an expected valedictorian who is under a lot of pressure to be the absolute best. He pushes himself incredibly hard to try and reach his (impossible) goals, and boy, did I feel stressed for him. Silverman’s portrayal of the “stressed student” was incredibly spot-on and realistic, up to a point where I started feeling anxious for Ariel and had to put the book down to calm down and breathe. Not great for me, but if a sure sign that the author is doing a good job.
The way that Laura Silverman tackles academic pressure and the influence it has on one’s mental health is gut-punching and raw. It doesn’t glamorize it, doesn’t try to make it seem like less of a big deal than it is, and while it definitely hurts to read, I feel like this is a book that every teen should read. Not just because they’ll see themselves in it, but because it might change the way they treat themselves for the better.
Another thing that I absolutely adored about this book were the family-relationships. The way Ariel interacted with his parents and sister, and reading scenes of them sitting down for dinner and discussing their day made me feel incredibly cosy and warm. I also loved how the Jewish faith and traditions were incorporated in this novel. I’m religious myself (though not Jewish) and I don’t often see faith being apart of young adult books (unless it’s about super shitty older people) so just seeing people going to a religious service and speaking to a Rabbi was super lovely.
Sadly though, I didn’t love the romance in this book a lot, which surprised me a bit since the romance in Girl Out of Water was one of my favorite parts of that book. I loved the love interest, Amir, and I really enjoyed reading about him (and I kind of want a book solely about him) but the romance felt a little… rushed. While I did love the scenes that Amir and Ariel had together and their interactions made me smile, I just didn’t feel incredibly invested in their romance, and I think I could’ve loved this aspect the book more if there had been a little more to the romance. But this certainly didn’t prevent me from loving the book as a whole, because this is just a minor complaint.
Overall, I think this is book is incredibly important and I enjoyed it a lot, but it’s just a little off from a 5-star read for me (so, 4.7 star? Maybe) because of the fact that I didn’t feel super invested in the romance. Laura Silverman remains one of my favorite authors and I truly cannot wait what she’ll write next. Whatever it is, I know I’m going to read it.