Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 5, 2019
Genres: Modern, 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 from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
You Asked for Perfect absolutely gutted me. Shattered my heart. All the feels.
I was not expecting this. In fact, I put off reading this book for a LONG time, because I was so much less excited about it than about Girl Out of Water, Laura Silverman’s first book (which is, um, apparently one of those books I meant to write a review for and never got around to…oops). However, since I’m trying to be a good little reviewer – and also, hello, academic stress, I can relate – I picked it up last week.
Ariel Stone is the classic, driven, overachiever student. Except he’s Jewish and bisexual. Also, he’s waaaaaaay stressed out, and despite the 10+ year age difference I can so relate.
I used to like studying. That burst of satisfaction when new material clicks. The competitive gratification of finishing a test first, knowing you got everything right.
YES! So true! But then there is the pressure we type-A people like to put on ourselves…and the expectations of our family/teachers/friends…and next thing you know, studying is about as fun as plucking your leg hair out with tweezers.
If I stay any longer, he’ll see what’s happening. He’ll see I don’t understand. I’m not smart enough. I’m an imposter. If I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked for, at least I don’t have to do it in front of an audience.
I really just wanted to wrap Ariel up in a big hug. Like, this kid put so much stress on himself, and he cares so much about his family – and, oh, let’s not forget Amir, because Amir is cool on his own and he and Ariel together is just adorable. Oh, and his FAMILY! Actually, both of their families…why did I not have relationships like this as a teenager? They are supportive – academically and emotionally. The sibling banter is fun and believable. I liked that the story included Ariel’s little sister Rachel, and showed just HOW YOUNG the academic pressure can and does start. It broke my heart, not just Rachel, but Ariel, and Isaac (another young savant that is a secondary character but also struggling).
“If it’s not important to you, why do you tell everyone I’m applying there? It’s all you guys talk about. Like it’s the only worthwhile thing about me.” My voice begins to shake. “If I don’t get in, that’s it. I’ll be Ariel, the one who didn’t get into Harvard. I’ll let everyone down. I’ll let you guys down. And I might not get in. I really might not, because I’m not perfect. They asked for perfect, and I’m not.”
Ariel really grows so much through this story, even though it takes place over only a few weeks. He realizes a lot of his pressure is internal, and he realizes that sometimes…people are more important than academics. Basically he came to the realization that I wish I had, years and years ago. Realizing that sometimes, a couple of extra points on a test aren’t worth missing quality time with family and friends. Oh, and he also got a cute boyfriend out of it, which is always a plus. 😉
5/5 stars. Go buy it, go read it, go hug it.
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