Courtney Summers Week: Cracked Up To Be

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date: December 2008
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 224 pages


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 counselors 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.

First line: Imagine four years.

I heard about this book everywhere I went for months. I had seen it on the shelves at work and some of my friends told me I should read but my TBR was just so big and never-ending. I kept saying I would eventually. Even when I bought the book, it sat on my shelf for months unopened. Then, one day I needed a really good read to get me out of a slump. I wanted something different so I picked up Cracked Up To Be. And boy, it was amazing.

This story picks up in the middle. When we meet Parker, she’s already lost in her world and in a downward spiral from perfection. You don’t know at first exactly how far gone she is. In the opening pages Parker seems like a normal teen in class with her friends but in an instant, you know she’s far from normal. Throughout this whole story, Parker is never normal and never wants to be again. As things move you learn she used to be. She used to be a lot of things and now she was nothing. She wanted nothing, tried for nothing and she was fine with it.

CUTB wraps the present with past (all the events leading up to Parker’s transformation) in order to keep the suspense. It's an intriguing story. I wanted to know what happened but even more, I wanted to know what would happen to Parker. Because Parker is an amazing character. I truly don’t think I’ve met anyone like her before. She’s witty and sassy and honest, even when it hurts others. Her actions are confusing and unusual and they don’t make sense; then, they don’t really make sense to her either. It’s what makes her such a real and intense character. She doesn’t let anyone get close to her anymore—not after what happened. She doesn’t want them, doesn’t want to be where she is, doesn’t want anything. Unfortunately for her, no one will leave her alone. They want her to try again, to be the person she was before everything. And well, as I said, she doesn’t want any of it. (Ergo, plot.)

Parker’s voice is so strong and I can’t even tell you how amazing the characterization is. Every detail, every movement, every piece of dialogue has a purpose. CUTB is the epitome of “show don’t tell” and all the details really make it stand out. Parker has this snapping problem, a new tick that she has developed to make things “better”. That was the most incredible detail I’ve ever read.

Something else unique to CUTB are the other characters. Each character—the ex-boyfriend, the girl who took her place and the new kid—bring a new element to the story strengthen the plot. And make Parker want to run away screaming because they don’t get it. They can’t get it and she can’t bring herself to tell them.

Parker keeps you reading because she’s so amazing and infuriating at the same time. You want to know why?! Why would she do this? What on earth happened to make her this way? What is the secret? But Courtney Summers doesn’t tell us. Not until we are so far in that everything has to come out. In the end, you can understand why Parker reacted as she did. The reason for it will blow your mind.

This book will make you laugh and make you cry and it’s something you will never forget.


  1. Wonderful review!

    Courtney's writing is very sharp, smart, and simply beautiful. I agree on all your comments about Parker. I thought she was magnetic and compelling. Like you mentioned, the supporting characters did add a lot to the story and made it very well-rounded. I loved reading all the interactions they had with Parker. Once I read the last page I had a hard time letting these characters go.

  2. Definitely another book I'm gonna have to check out!

  3. After I read Fall For Anything I knew that I had to pick up every single book Courtney Summers has ever written. This review just solidifies that fact. I have my fingers crossed for some bookstore gift cards in my stocking =)

  4. Courtney has such a harsh, edgy, and raw way of writing. I love it.

  5. I LOVE this book for sooooooooo many reasons
    that can be sum up in 4 words,


    and it has a place really close to my heart
    cause it introduce me to the world of Courtney's
    writting, and I couldn't apreciatte it more

    ps. I *loooooooooove* Parker (:

  6. Great review. Cracked Up to Be is probably my favorite book by Courtney Summers, but I haven't read Fall for Anything yet. The whole book is brilliant and Parker is such a fantastic character.


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