Cracked Up to Be: Give Me Your Unlikable Female Characters

Since I read Sadie, I’ve been obsessed with Courtney Summers’ writing. Like HOW does she write like this?? I want more of her books AND her writing abilities. So when I saw she was re-releasing her book, Cracked Up to Be and that it was available on NetGalley, I pressed the request button so fast. Soooo…let’s get to the review.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.

Let’s switch things up and start with trigger warnings. I wish I had some before reading so I want to make sure you are warned beforehand.

Trigger warnings: suicide attempt, rape (no graphic description, shown as a flashback), death of a dog

Ok, now to the story!

Parker used to be the queen bee of her school. Amazing grades, captain of the cheerleading squad, and was with the most popular guy in school. But after one night, she makes sure to change all that.

She makes sure all her former friends hate her, dumps her boyfriend, quits the cheerleading squad, and ensures her grades go to shit. What happened that night to make her give up so thoroughly? She saw something happen to her best friend, Jessie, and now Jessie is missing.

So Parker has made herself into the most unlikable girl in school BUT some people don’t seem to care, including her ex-boyfriend, Chris, and the new kid in school, Jake.

Chris will not give up on Parker and him. I’m not sure if he just likes the idea of them together or if he really is in love with her and wants to get back together. Either way, Parker is not having it.

Jake is baffled by why he’s attracted to her. She’s mean to him, pushes him away, and yet, he still comes back asking for more. Parker doesn’t really understand it either. Why won’t he leave her alone and let her be forgotten like she wants? Their relationship fascinates me. I had no idea how they were going to end up.

Besides her relationships with Chris and Jake, she has quite the relationship with guilt. Parker feels guilty for what she saw that night and her lack of action. It eats her up inside and while she doesn’t openly acknowledge it, it’s there plain to see in her actions. She rips apart every inch of what her life used to be. You don’t do that for the fun of it.

This was a hard book to put down. I NEEDED to know what happened to Parker that night and what she saw, and since it’s not completely explained until the last quarter of the book, I went from chapter to chapter soaking up every inch of Parker’s life trying to figure it out.

In terms of Parker as a character, I found her quite relatable. I connected to her almost immediately as a girl who doesn’t fit into all the nice edges others like to push us into. But that doesn’t mean I would’ve done everything she does in the book. I would’ve been a fool for Jake at that age lol.

While this book isn’t as epic as Sadie was for me, it’s still extremely well-written and the characters wonderfully complex.

If I ‘d been aware of the triggers in Cracked Up to Be before I read it, I think I’d be giving it a higher rating. My reading experience would’ve been better if I’d had know those things were coming. But sometimes that’s the way it goes.

I’m giving Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers 4 out of 5 stars. If you’ve read and loved Courtney Summers’ books in the past or simply like complicated teen stories, this book is definitely for you.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press/Wednesday Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.

If you’re enjoying my reviews, ramblings, and lists of books that I want but have no shelf space for, you can buy me a coffee at my ko-fi!

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