Title: You Asked for Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count: 288 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
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.
Have you ever felt the need to be perfect in something? A sport? Your job? What about in school? Whether you’re in school now or not, was there ever a point where you needed a perfect grade, a perfect test score, a perfect something? Do you remember dealing with the constant stress and increased anxiety levels to live up to the standards that others, or even yourself, hold you up to?
I’m one of those people that answered yes to each of those questions. In school, I struggled to maintain good grades, a social life, my family life, and my extra-curricular activities. I struggled so much that I would constantly break down because of the stress and anxiety bearing down on my shoulders and my mind. It wasn’t healthy.
And this beautiful, emotionally relatable book, You Asked for Perfect, sums up exactly what it feels like to deal with those overbearing pressures. This book is what I wished for in high school and I am so glad (so unbelievably thankful) that I had the chance to read an early copy. If you’re in middle school, high school, college, or just feeling the pressure to be perfect at something, you need to read this book. You need this book in your life right now. Trust me. Stress and anxiety take such a toll on one’s body that you may not even notice it until you wind up getting sick or worse.
“The calculus test is Friday. If I fail, it will literally be impossible to get an A in the class. If I don’t get an A in the class, I won’t have a perfect record. If I don’t have a perfect record, I’ll be a less appealing applicant for Harvard. If I’m a less appealing applicant for Harvard, I won’t get in. If I don’t get in…”
You Asked for Perfect centers on senior Ariel Stone, who struggles with academic pressure. He feels he must maintain his perfect grades, his first spot for Valedictorian, his first chair violin spot, and somehow squeeze in time to have a social life. Like most kids in school, he works exceptionally hard to maintain his perfect status. So a failed Calculus quiz is not acceptable in his perfect world. The readers see first hand what its like to struggle with the idea of being perfect, and what one failed quiz can do to someone who never fails in the academic field. Ariel puts too much on his plate, and because of that, his health starts to deteriorate, without him even noticing. He starts to swap out hours of sleep for studying when his grades start to slip. And though he gets a tutor, he doesn’t want anyone to know, especially the girl he’s up against for Valedictorian. Ariel doesn’t want anyone to see him as weak, not even his family. So, he works to maintain his perfect image in school and with his family and best friend.
Besides the emotional rollercoaster this book gives its readers, I thought the development with Ariel’s family and close friends was well put together. His sister is similar to Ariel, in the sense that she has to be perfect and puts an exceptional amount of pressure on herself for such a young age. And the worst part? Not even their parents notice what their kids are going through. It’s the aspect of being blind when your eyes can fully see: you don’t see the signs that are right in front of you. And so many kids in today’s world struggle with this, which is why this book is so vastly important. Ariel’s parents are wonderful people in this book, they really are, but like most parents, they don’t see the problems unless their kids bring it up to them. Or in Ariel’s case, unless you get really good at hiding your struggles. And then there’s Ariel’s best friend, who he somehow finds time to help her with her band. Ariel doesn’t want to disappoint his best friend, so even though he is struggling, he helps her out and doesn’t let her in on the problems he is facing.
And, of course, there’s Ariel’s tutor, Amir, who is such a loving guy, but who also happens to put a spin on Ariel’s life. Ariel swore off relationships until after high school, but could Amir possibly change that? And even so, it’s just another pressure Ariel puts on his shoulders; so, his struggle is not just with school, but with everyone in his life.
But the one pressure that Ariel needs to fix is the pressure he puts on himself. That’s the worst pressure of all. He holds himself up to a standard because he doesn’t want to disappoint those around him. And he really wants to get into Harvard, so a failed Calculus quiz is not in the cards. But his pressures and the standard he holds himself up to are issues that so many kids deal with. And that’s one of the reasons why I stress how important this book is.
I could keep going on and on about this incredible book (I could probably create a whole presentation on it), but there’s only one thing I can say at this point: You Need This Book. Even if you’re not currently struggling with anything, get this book because there will come a time that you will need it and, trust me, you will be so thankful that you read You Asked for Perfect. Laura Silverman delivers a beautifully crafted book that you are not going to want to miss.
You Asked for Perfect comes out March 5, 2019.
All quotes are from the advanced readers copy and may not appear in the final novel.