Thursday, 4 April 2019

You Asked for Perfect - Laura Silverman

Date of Reading: 20/03/2019
Author: Laura Silverman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
My Rating: 4.5/5

About the book:

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.

My Review:

       I started reading this hoping for a light-hearted m/m romance and ended up agonising over the slipping grades and lack of time along with Ariel. Oof! So much for a laid back read. The powerful language will suck you into the story within no time and my tension was so apparent that my poor kindle must have reached a breaking point, thanks to the strenuous handgrip.
        Romance plays just a subplot here, so I won't advise you to take this for a cute little love story. But this is a must read for all those who are in high school or even college because this is something most of today's generation goes through. It took me back to the days I struggled to get an admission in my favourite college which eventually led to the same realisation that Ariel comes to at the end. You are not defined by your grades or by the name of the institution you studies and until and unless you make peace with this fact, you will remain unhappy in spite of your hard won achievements.
         So make time for things that you love, other credentials will follow you. Such a phenomenal read and I am sure this story is going to stay with me.


        Ariel Stone strives to maintain an effortlessly perfect image in his final year high school class. He is expected to be the valedictorian and his aim to be in Harvard gives something to his parents to boast about. But what everyone is fails to see is that Ariel is struggling to keep his perfect grades. With six AP classes he doesn't have time for normal sleep and what is more, he is starting to fail in Calculus.
       His classmate Amir, who only dates older guys, agrees to tutor him and his grades are now back on track.  Their time together leads to a relationship that was eagerly anticipated by both their parents. But things begin to go down in the academic front when his first chair position in violin turns precarious. Meanwhile, he is also forced to make time for his best friend Sook's band which is trying to get an agent. Sook is adament in her refusal to go to an ivy league institution, her parents have selected. She wants to pursue her dreams in music which can be fulfilled only with a recording contract.

      With each passing day, Ariel finds himself near to the breaking point, but he pushes forward even with the blisters in the hand caused by violin practice. But in the end, she withdraws his help to Sook. Meanwhile, academic stress also affects his sister Rachel which shows its signs through severe physical pain and she is hospitalised. This compels Ariel to look back on his life since his relation with Amir has also suffered in the relentless pursuit of academic excellence.
      After a heart to heart talk with his parents, Ariel withdraws from one of his AP classes. He loses his first chair position in violin but applies to Harvard anyway. In the midst of his interview a phone call arrives from Sook's friend asking for help. Taking this as an opportunity to mend the bonds with his best friend, Ariel leaves the interview explaining the urgency of the matter. This had the two friends united. A surprise to Amir, in the form of an exhibition of his photos, reconciles the two lovers. Novel ends inconclusively without revealing the result of Ariel's Harvard application.

Something to ponder . . .

"Too many photos are dark, depressing. As if only serious subjects make good art. I think it's harder to make someone happy than make them sad." - 95

"It's not so much about the answers. Answers end a conversation. Questions keep a conversation going. We're here to discuss and explore. Why cut off a journey before we get started?" - 161 

Meet the author:

Laura Silverman is an author and editor and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, and It’s a Whole Spiel. Girl Out of Water was a Junior Library Guild Selection. You can contact Laura on Twitter @LJSilverman1 or through her website  


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