Title: You Asked for Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 (of 150 ratings)
Book Princess Reviews receives a percentage of commission from purchases you make after following Book Depository links on our site.
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.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
Let’s start with what I liked about this book. Ariel’s struggle to maintain academic excellency in a high achieving school environment was all-too realistic. He taught himself to play the system to earn extra credit on poor assignments, insert as many AP classes into his schedule as possible, and choose hobbies a college would look favourably upon. Ariel found little joy in what he did. He carved more and more time from his family (the one thing he still kept for himself) and became sleep deprived, irritable, and reckless.
It was a scary journey into the effects of academic pressure. I saw myself in Ariel’s pains, as I know so many readers will. Sometimes, I even caught myself thinking, “Okay, Ariel, quit chatting with your friends and finish that essay and maybe you won’t be so stressed.” He was stressed because of all the work, and the little time he had with friends was the reprieve. It’s so, so sad how we are conditioned into believing more work is the answer. Not smarter work. Not better priorities.
As much as I ached for Ariel’s journey with schooling, I halted when it came to him as a person. He started his senior year, and it was like all of a sudden he didn’t understand math and really, really found Amir (his close family friend) super sexy. As a reader, I’m told that Ariel is the top student in the school and that everyone thought he hated Amir. The introduction of these plot points just felt like poor writing to get the story rolling.
Ariel and Amir’s romance was very cringe-worthy. Leading up to the first tutoring session (and then during), every time Ariel looks at Amir he notes a different sexy/extremely attractive part of his body that he somehow never saw in all the years they knew each other. The fact that this attraction comes out of nowhere and is put in almost every thought Ariel has about Amir was overwhelming. What is worse is that before they make the relationship official, the pair do not talk of anything of substance. It’s largely based on attraction. Afterwards, they have a running joke about Harry Potter but for as much as Amir seems to love HP, I never got the same interest from Ariel (he has nothing in his personal life that suggested it.)
I enjoyed the relationship between Ariel and his sister, Rachel. The way academic pressure pops up in her life was a surprise, but not unknown. Despite only being in fifth-grade, the realities she faces are happening more and more. I’m glad her story was brought in, too. And of course, Rachel is absolutely so sweet.
I saved the possibly worst for last. I got so, so annoyed with Sook, Ariel’s best friend. I really wish this character was not in the book. Sook’s family is rich and has ties to Dartmouth. They want their daughter to go to Dartmouth (and have pulled ties for her to go there), but she wants to be a musician instead. The narrative is interesting in the beginning. Everyone in this book is focused on the traditional college track, but Sook wants to carve her own path. But Sook ends up representing the worst of “spoiled rich girl” stereotypes. The way this happened infuriated me because it diminished the entire beginning of her narrative AND reflected horribly on her friendship with Ariel. I had a gross taste in my mouth at how she treated him. If someone treated me like Sook, do not expect them to be my friend. This is not friendship.
I would recommend this book for its accuracy in the effects of academic pressures. The ending could have been a lot stronger and I didn’t like Sook’s character, but those aren’t deal breakers. 3 crowns.
Have you experienced academic pressure? How did you deal with it? Are you still dealing with it?