Blog Tour/Guest Post/Giveaway: Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff
A girl’s quest for perfection results in dangerous consequences in this layered, suspenseful YA novel by the author of Playlist for the Dead.
How far would you go to be perfect?
Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes.
But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.
This dark, emotionally resonant contemporary YA novel is perfect for fans of We Were Liars and The Secret History.
Pushing Perfect centers along a girl’s desire to achieve her version of perfection. What do you think contributes to these pre-conceived notions of perfection? What is your advice to young adults who also struggle with this ideology of perfection?
I think the list of factors is long, and there’s no way to be comprehensive, since much of it depends on individuals. That said, I think young girls in particular have to deal, from a very early age, with pressure from both their families and society to comport with expectations and norms about gender and behavior that are inaccurate, outdated, underinclusive…you name it. I can’t help but look at the presidential election and seeing some of the same double standards young girls face playing out on a world stage, with adults. It’s absurd and damaging and I can only hope that we’re sane enough as a country to put the brakes on it.
It’s so hard to give advice to young adults, since so much of what seems like it would be helpful from the adult vantage point doesn’t translate well. I remember people telling me all the things I would tell younger people now—it gets better, no matter once it is, once you’re the person in charge of your own life in the fullest possible way. Whether that’s about fully owning who you are and living the life you want, or getting independence, or financial freedom, or whatever will set you on the path to happiness, time and autonomy matter. But even if I believed those things when people told them to me, I don’t think I internalized them until much later.
Michelle Falkoff’s fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law.
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