Hi, everyone! I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman. Read on for my thoughts on this excellent sophomore novel, and be sure to check out the links below to follow the rest of the tour!
You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 5, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After thoroughly enjoying Laura Silverman’s debut, Girl Out of Water, and after chatting with her at a couple book events here in Atlanta, I knew I would pick up anything she published next. And, friends, I’m happy to report that You Asked for Perfect did not disappoint!
In You Asked for Perfect, we follow high school senior Ariel Stone, the golden boy at the top of his class who’s beginning to crack under the pressure of impending college applications and the pressure to perform perfectly. Ariel is forced to find a tutor after his Calculus grade begins to slip, and to his surprise, he finds himself falling for his new tutor and former rival, Amir.
While I recommend You Asked for Perfect wholeheartedly, I can’t really say that I enjoyed the experience of reading it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this stressed while reading a YA book; Laura Silverman captured all of the very worst– but also VERY REAL– parts of high school, in my eyes. I think academic pressure is a concept so many readers, particularly those of us in the book community, will relate to, and this book captures the ways in which that pressure can come from external sources (even well-meaning adults in teenagers’ lives) as well as internal ones. So while “enjoy” isn’t a word I can use for how I felt while reading YAFP, I can say that I appreciated it and related intensely to the characters.
Ariel’s group of friends felt a lot like my group of friends in high school. They’re all intensely dedicated overachievers, and all of them are desperately trying to hide the cracks in their facades in an effort to be the best, the most perfect, the one who has it all figured out. They’re often so caught up in their own inner turmoil that they aren’t able to be good friends to one another– which, damn, if that isn’t a MOOD for all *~nerdy kids~* in high school (at least, it was for me and my friends). Ariel was almost less worried about the fact that he was struggling in his classes, and more concerned about any of his peers finding out he was struggling (WOW; me). Overall, I think Laura Silverman nailed these parts of the high school experience that are often glossed over in YA books. I mean, I don’t think this is a universal experience for everyone, but it definitely rang true for me.
The romance was really sweet, too. I love reading romances where it feels very much like the beginning of a relationship between two characters, not the entire story, and the romance between Ariel and Amir very much had that vibe. It was two people getting to know each other (and doing some kissing along the way), with the promise of more further down the road. As for representation, Ariel IDs as bi and Amir IDs as gay. I will say, though, I’m getting very tired of books with bi protagonists containing so little nuance regarding gender. There’s lots of discussion about boys and girls, men and women, and no acknowledgement of any other genders. It’s not that this portrayal of bisexuality is necessarily wrong, but rather that it only feels like part of the story. (This is just me speaking as a Tired Bisexual™️.) That aside, I loved Ariel and Amir’s bonding over their shared love of things like Harry Potter. Their relationship instantly brought me back to the days of those first flutters of attraction to people in high school.
I also loved how close Ariel was to his family! So often in YA, we have fairly absent parents, but that was not the case here. And I loved how close Ariel was to his younger sister, even though she was significantly younger than him, because my older brothers and I are super close even with 15+ years between us. Ariel and his family are also Jewish, which is #ownvoices rep. I am not Jewish myself, but I always love seeing protagonists with strong religious practices outside of Christianity, because we can always use more of that in YA. Religion is a large part of Ariel’s life and identity, like it is for so many teenagers.
Also, I’d be remiss not to mention that You Asked for Perfect is set in a suburb of Atlanta, which I always love seeing in YA, since that is exactly where I grew up! At one point, Amir mentions the superiority of Publix sugar cookies, and I have never felt so much love for a character.
Overall, while this reading experience was extremely anxiety-inducing, I think that You Asked for Perfect is a book both teenagers and adults will relate intensely to. I can’t wait for Ariel’s story to be out in the world, because I think it fills a needed void in YA contemporary, with some excellent representation to boot!
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PRIZE: Win a copy of You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman (INT)
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Have you read You Asked for Perfect? If so, let’s discuss in the comments! If not, are you looking forward to reading it?