Title: You Asked For Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 5th March 2019
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.
The moment I read about this book I knew I had to read it because anxiety is something I can totally relate to. I am the kind of person who gets immeasurably stressed out about pretty much anything but especially anything academic. I think this story is one that needs to be more prevalent in the Young Adult genre particularly because it is an issue that seems to be getting worse not better. For a lot of teenagers applying to university the feelings of constant adrenaline and stress will be so familiar. It feels like your entire future is at the mercy of those few months and how you perform in exams which have little to do with real life.
The main character in You Asked For Perfect is Ariel, a young man so focussed on his application to Harvard University that his entire existence becomes a whirlwind of pressure and anxiety. I liked reading about him and his family a great deal. These characters felt realistic and I got attached to them very fast. Ariel and his family are Jewish and I really enjoyed learning about some Jewish traditions through this family’s experiences. The love and affection these characters have for each other made their relationships so believable and really heartwarming. I tend to read a lot of dark and gritty books and whilst there are some intense issues in You Asked For Perfect, I actually really appreciated reading about genuine and good people who care about each other. One of the main facets of this story is Ariel’s developing relationship with Amir, who helps him in calculus. Their relationship was adorable and I liked that Ariel’s bisexuality was never made an issue of – it is just part of who he is which was nice to see in a Young Adult novel.
I did actually find reading You Asked For Perfect quite difficult at times just because I could literally feel Ariel’s stress in myself. His struggles were so perfectly put across by the author that it made every sentence really hit home. Ariel’s little sister also deals with an overwhelming schoolwork related anxiety and this was even more distressing due to her young age. I genuinely believe that that this is an accurate representation of a situation too many children are in. I think there is a very real problem with the way schools and society pile pressure on kids to constantly feel like they are competing and that they are never doing enough which is immensely sad.
I think You Asked For Perfect is a fantastic novel for young people. I shows a problem so many people are dealing with but it’s also an engaging and warm story in it’s own right. It feels modern and there were also some great Harry Potter references which I loved! I would highly recommend this book as a real, powerful and life-affirming novel that I’ll be thinking about for a long time.
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I received an e-arc of this book through Netgalley. My Review is my own honest opinion.