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Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard - Review

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Where did I get it? I had it on pre-order as I've enjoyed Sara's previous books so much, so it arrived a few weeks ago. 

What's it about? Eden lives in Kent, with her bio sister Daisy and their adoptive family - Carolyn, Bob, and sister Valerie. Eden is sixteen and about to take her GCSEs. She's woken one Saturday morning to a visit from the police. Her best friend Bonnie has run off with her secret boyfriend, Jack, who Eden had heard about didn't entirely believe was real. Only it turns out that Jack is actually Mr Cohn, a music teacher at Eden and Bonnie's school. Eden lies to police about being in touch with Bonnie as she desperately tries to deal with the fact that her sure and steady best friend has done something completely wild. 

Eden has a boyfriend, Connor, who is really cute and very like the male characters in previous books by Sara. Eden's birth mum is no longer in her life, and Eden struggles to know where her place is in her family. She's also not the most academic of teenagers and is dreading the exams. She loves gardening and is fiercely protective of her little sister. I loved getting to know Eden as a character. I think Sara is really good at writing believable but flawed but also likeable characters. Eden does some stupid things, but we as readers are totally on her side and want her to be okay, I think. 

I liked the side characters a lot, especially Eden's sisters Daisy and Valerie. I found it difficult to get to know Bonnie, but I think this is part of the point, because the Bonnie that Eden know no longer exists, if she did at all. I think this was an excellent example of contemporary YA as a genre - it's exciting, a lot happens, it's well-paced, and there's some really lovely bits to go alongside the really poignant parts. It talks about the grooming of teenagers while never seeming preachy. Really accessible and really, really good. 

What age range is it for? 15+, maybe, although it would depend on the maturity of a younger teenager as to whether they could handle it, I think. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? There's brief mention to Eden and Daisy not being "white enough" but nothing else. I would have liked to see this explored more, perhaps, but I can also see that it wasn't perhaps relevant to the story. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really. 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, and I thought it was so well written. It made perfect sense for where it happened in the book, and was really lovely, I was really happy for Eden. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? A tiny bit when talking about Eden's birth mum, but there's nothing too graphic. I thought Eden's relationship with her mum was brilliantly and poignantly done, I liked how conflicted Eden was about it. 

Is there any talk of death? No 

Are there swear words? Yes, a few. I loved when Valerie swore late on into the novel because it really got her character over well. 

What criticisms do I have? Honestly, very few. I would have written certain things differently, sure, but I thought this was a really good novel. It didn't focus too much on Bonnie and Mr Cohn, which I felt was right. 

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. I think Sara is one of the best UK novelists around at the moment. Her British teens are always so true to life. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Funnily, Lee chose it. I have a spreadsheet of all my books, which Lee also made into an app for me. Whenever a new book arrives it has to be put on the spreadsheet, so there's a pile in the bedroom waiting. I can't add them myself, only Lee can. So the other night when I finished my last book, Lee pulled this out of the pile for me. It was a good choice!

What other books is it like? It's like Sara's other books definitely. 

How many stars? Five out of five, I have basically no criticisms and I stayed up way too late two nights in a row to read it. 

Where is the book going now? I'm keeping it for sure. I hope one day that Sara is at a conference I'm at, because I'd really like my books of hers to be signed!

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