All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.
Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….
Leila Sales was born in 1984 and grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in psychology in 2006. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in the mostly glamorous world of children's book publishing. Leila spends most of her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, dance parties, and stories that she wants to write.
***Please note that I do not respond to messages sent to me via Goodreads mail. I love hearing from readers, but would ask you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet at me @LeilaSalesBooks. Thank you!
I am an absolute fan of fluffy reads and I resort to this stuff occasionally or when the need arises. Thus, when I saw that super adorable book cover, I thought this would be the perfect pick (as the title suggests).
I learn soon enough though that the cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story and though it pains me to say this, I have to admit that this did not fully meet my expectation. :/
It has a wonderful concept about a young girl’s romantic problems particularly about trying to move on from her past relationship. There is even love triangle which would have made the story exciting enough. The plot is also enriched with the element of historical reenactments (which to me is mainly the entertaining part).
However, it seems to me like the fluff was way overdone that the main premise has become a bit too averagely executed. The characters lack enough depth and personality for me to feel connected with them which disappointed me because in Leila Sales’ This Song Will Save Your Life, I felt deeply connected with the main character.
Maybe it’s just me and maybe it’s because I just read a really intense series before this. I really don’t know. *Sighs*
Nevertheless, this is still a decent read and the author is still a talented writer. I like how she reconciled past and present events and I appreciate the life lessons she imbued the story with. There were also a lot of parts that made me laugh and amused me.
So, if you’re looking for fluff overload without too many complications and complex plots, this is still recommendable. ^^
Reading Past Perfect was reminiscent of the time I read Psych Major Syndrome. I just didn’t want to stop reading it. Not because it’s an adrenalin-fuelled, tension-filled, mind-blowing plot but because I was just having such a good time reading it that it felt like a crime to stop. So I read Past Perfect until 3am and grinned and sighed my way through it.
The first reason I fell in love with this book was because is gorgeously funny. The prose is a dream: insightful and sharp and snarky, slightly whimsical and completely relate-able. I found out after reading that Sales is a comedienne. Which absolutely makes sense as not only were there poignantly brilliant one-liners, but the whole experience is doused in a whimsical and clever humour. Gosh, I was crushing on so many sentences and sentiments and overall themes.
The premise of this book is truly awesome. Chelsea is working @ a historical colonial village, where her parents also work, and her relationship with employees there is somewhat family-like. They are close-knit and loyal and I loved them to bits (some were endearing, others intense and others provided comic relief). Amongst them is Chelsea’s (awesome) best friend &, awkwardly, her ex-boyfriend, who she just can’t seem to get over.
Chelsea’s Historical village is in a fierce all-out, teenager-y war with the teenagers who work @ a rival historical village across the road. (Think the townies and the cadets in On the Jellicoe Road). Chelsea gets kidnapped by one particularly cute boy from the enemy’s camp and even after her rescue can’t stop crushing on him even though he is completely forbidden...
I loved the escalating war between the two teen historical summer-job crews. It was clever and intense and fiery. And funny, haha.
I loved the whole setting of Chelsea working at the colonial village. So much fodder for in-jokes, random historical trivia (awesome stuff) and it’s a vivid setting I haven’t read before in YA ~ kind of like a summer camp vibe, but more funky ~ and Sailes absolutely takes advantage of it ~ using quiet irony, loads of humour and a little bit of heart. This is one of those books that so effortlessly portrays a vivid setting that you feel you were there with the characters, and bonded along. I felt like a part of the gang :) I want to go there and hang out.
I LOVED the romance in this. It was just perfect for my tastes. I swooned, I ached, I wanted more of Dan ~ their chemistry and honesty and dialogue and kisses and complications and betrayals felt so genuine. lovelovelove.
Not only was Chelsea and Dan's relationship brilliant ~ but all the characters were real. Chelsea’s best friend was funny and true and I loved her. Her parents cracked me up. Even minor characters were treated with their own unique flavour.
Flannery talks more about the history side of it~ it was genius and so relate-able and even while I was having immense fun reading this ~ it also made me think a little ~ about history and my memories, and who I am and what makes me me, etc. It had a gorgeous message without being at all didactic (rather liberating the reader to think for themselves. Without sounding cheesy ~ it felt uplifting by the end)
There’s some awesome jokes in here, a brilliant sense of camaraderie ~ it feels like Sales took her time creating this world and it’s nuances and characters (loved the ice-cream testing, the FARBS, the history the people had together).
I pretty much thought this was brilliant. Pretty much a perfect reading experience for me (loved every single minute of it) Why aren’t there more YA books like this?
Thanks to Flannery for recommending this to me (it was even better than I imagined!) and to S & S Galley Grab for the galley :) ~ I will be purchasing my own copy to squeeze onto my favourite shelf :D
Who knew people obsessed with historical reenacting were so awesome?
(Somehow, they don't appear to be particularly cool in these pictures, do they?)
And yet, this book and its characters are A TON OF FUN!
After discovering the sheer awesomeness of Dungeons & Dragons' enthusiasts in Into the Wild Nerd Yonder and stage crew fanatics in Pink, learning about this new type of nerdery was a special, unexpected treat. Seriously, who would want to hang out with popular (=boring) people after getting to know this gang?
There is nothing in Past Perfect that I didn't like. Humor (and not a mean-spirited type, for a change) - check. Meaningful friendships - check. Cute romance - check. Batty, but sufficiently present parents - double check. Pranks, parties, cavorting with enemies, kidnappings - check, check, check!
“What can I say; I have a thing for guys in period dress, okay? That’s just who I am.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. This book was like the younger tag-along sibling of Jellicoe Road and Frankie Landau-Banks. Very cute, a bit silly, surprisingly funny, sometimes annoying but ultimately, wholly charming.
High Points. Chelsea. Fiona. Ice cream connoisseurs. History. Original and hilarious setting. “Pony tails are just a deal breaker to me.” YES. Essex Village. Renactmentland. Secret loves. Kidnapping. Pranks. Petticoats and bonnets. Trampolines. Redcoats. Cheerleaders. Telephones. Family secrets.
Low Points. Chelsea started to grate on me a bit. I don’t like it when fictional best friends fight. There were a lot of unnecessarily long paragraphs about METAPHORS and HIDDEN DEPTHS and LATE NIGHT LIFE CHATS and it sometimes got a bit BORING.. I mean boring sorry... got carried away with the capitalisations. I liked what Ms Sales was saying but I didn't think it really fit with the tone of the book on some occasions and it often felt quite jarring. Like I was laughing one minute and then something serious was mentioned and I felt guilty for laughing and I had to be all serious all of a sudden. Chelsea, mate, you’re sixteen… there’s plenty of time to have angsty boy times and intense talks with a boy you have only just met. Please, just enjoy jumping on a trampoline with said cute boy. And that’s not a euphemism… *clutches pearls* Also, there is a bit at the end that really reminded me of the bit in Mean Girls when Cady gets Prom Queen and the principal says “You know, winners aren’t required to make a speech.” Which made me laugh and think I need to watch that film again soon….
Heroine. Well, when I say you started to grate on me… I mean that I wanted to you to stop talking about Ezra and just call Fiona and eat ice cream and tell you to shut the eff up. Because Fiona and I pretty much had the same mind. You were funny, appreciated history (sometimes I wish I had taken A-Level history) and you love ice-cream. BUT…You were a bit whingey and you were a bit stupid when it came to the people of the male disposition but you get Brownie points for wanting to get over McDouche. Even if you dragged your heels in actually doing it… And also you can work a historically accurate costume. Praise needs to be given for that. It takes a real woman to look good in a historically accurate costume.
Best Friend. YES. I loved Fiona. Although she did let Chelsea get away with a lot of her whinging. If I were ever to moan that much about a boy I just know my friend would throw a dollop of ice-cream at me which I would proceed to eat anyway…. Waste not want not. But I liked their ending.
Love Interest. Ezra= yuck. Why was he even still in the picture? He had absolutely no personality and he was definitely not someone who is worth all the pining he got. In a word… yawn. Dan= OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Although, I feel I don’t really you well enough. I would like to have had a bit getting to know you style flirty conversations (But not about difficult family situations…. Because we’ve only just met. And it would be intense.)
So… what’s your favourite colour? Why do you like the Sex Pistols so much? Why don’t you brush your hair?
Although why there was even a competition between a boy who wears historically accurate costumes (It actually reminds me of when I visited Warwick Castle and there was a bloke in a powdered wig who was pleasing to look at but he was, I repeat, in a powdered wig and it was confusing to say the least) and a boy who doesn’t like sledging… I don’t know.
Theme Tune. History- Funeral For a Friend. See, we were having fun weren’t we? Talking about boys in period costume and messy hair and crooked grins and stuff and then BAM… I hit you with this song. About metaphors and history and love and ANGST. Kinda ruined the mood, did it not? This is how I felt about this book a little. FUN FACT: FFAF are from Wales which is where I first encountered people who thought it was socially acceptable to dress in chainmail and walk around the streets re-enacting things with blunt swords and beards and dressed like wizards. Yeah.. the jury’s still out on this one.
I'm going to shake these reviews up a bit from now on to make things a bit clearer in determining the sadness of the book and the amount of love-related angst.
Boy/Girl Angst Level. 9/10. Jeez. OK. Well… this book had the usual amount of boy angst you can expect when the heroine is confused about which boy she loves. I mean… I guess I need to cut Chelsea some slack. It is difficult to choose between a complete loser who doesn’t have a personality and treated you like crap and a cute boy with a bit of a rebellious side but actually truly cares about you and he’s a great big brother and he looks good in tweed pants and braces. It completely needs a bajillion pages to work it out. Harumph.
Sadness Scale. 2/10. This book was very tame in the sadness scale because it was mostly funtimes all around so I didn’t get choked up about anything. I did like the part where Chelsea was looking through the memory box and remembering her relationship how it really was as opposed to the rose-tinted view she had before. I thought how Ms Sales depicted that bitter-sweet feeling of looking back into the past and being almost afraid to move on was interesting and realistic and almost excused the way Chelsea was behaving towards Ezra.
And also, Dan’s history was interesting… would have liked to have explored that a bit more.
Recommended For. People who like history. People who would choose the boring boy over the cute boy with a lopsided grin. People who are wondering what the girl on the cover of this book licking rain has anything to do with this book… SPOILER: Nothing. People who are wondering how one would go about becoming an ice-cream tester. People who think that trampolines are for jumping on, not oversharing on. People who want a surfer soul connection. People who always wonder whether the people in museums/history villagers are hot under all that material. People who want to know where the toilets are.
There are characters that I love to love, and characters that I love to hate. Characters that I merely despise, however, are rarely to my taste. Take Eona, for example. God, that girl frustrated me, annoyed me, made me want to scream at her and shake her till she saw sense, but I still loved the book.
Chelsea, the heroine of this book, inspired no such emotion in me. I like a little bit of perspective even in my escapist fiction, and this just didn't give me that. Through the whole book I was just like, Yeah, so?
The setting of the book is pretty awesome. Chelsea gets a summer job in Essex, a living history Colonial village where her parents work, and where she's spent most of her summers. This year, however, she wanted to work at the mall, a scheme that was overturned by her best friend Fiona's desire to work in Essex. Her life is further complicated by the fact that her ex-boyfriend Ezra- whom she's still pining over- is also working there this summer. And as if things aren't hard enough, Chelsea finds herself falling for a Civil Warrior from the neighbouring Reenactmentland, Essex's bitterest rivals.
The entire generation of junior interpreters in both places are at War, trying to undermine each other's places of work without letting the adults know about the ongoing rivalry. They sneak into each other's camps and plant anachronistic implements and indulge in petty vandalism. This entire scenario reminded me A LOT of Jellicoe Road, but without the magic that infuses Marchetta's world. Despite the logic fails in the territory wars in Jellicoe Road, I was infinitely more invested in the 3-way battle between the Cadets, the Townies and the School. For some reason, the War in past Perfect felt too juvenile and petty, even.
But my biggest problem with this book was Chelsea. For some reason, I never managed to connect with her character. I like romantic angst in my YA books, sure, but there has to be a solid base for the angst. Father died? Okay. Parents divorced? Okay. Constrained by financial and cultural circumstances? Okay. But a story about a sixteen year old girl with two loving parents, a great, supportive best friend and a comfortable, happy life playing Juliet in a made-up war? Not so much.
I think the reason I had such a problem with this book was because the heroine took herself so seriously. If you're going to write fluff, then write it with humour and passion and fun. If I wanted to read the moanings of a middle-class teenager whose greatest trial in life has been her first real break-up, I'd go back and read my diaries from high school.
Also, Chelsea came across as a little too self-centred for my taste.
I was completely unconvinced by the romance, both the star-crossed nature of it, and the reason why Dan actually likes Chelsea totally escaped me. In fact, one of the saddest moments in my life was
So why did I still give this 3 stars? Because it is a light, easy, well-paced read with occasional flashes of genuine humour. I really liked the descriptions of the living history villages, and I would have been happy to have a bigger spotlight shone on them. I also liked the characterization of Chelsea's dad (I can totally see where her self-absorption comes from!) and her friendship with Fiona.
Chelsea's eventual realization that she had over-romanticized her relationship with Ezra also resonated with me, as it would with most girls/women with a weakness for charming assholes. I'm a little iffy, though, about how sudden her epiphany is. One minute she's all like, oh Ezra was the best boyfriend ever, and the next she's like, all my great memories are being filtered through rose-colored glasses! I know from personal experience, and from nurturing friends through similar relationships, that these things never just burst into fireworks in your head one day. It is a slow process of introspection and an inch-by-inch journey into realization. But this growth is not portrayed in the book at all.
All in all, this was a very 'okay' book for me, easily forgettable. (Sorry Flann!) I DO like Sales' style of writing, though, so I'll be looking up her other books to see if they appeal to me more.
As far as YA chick lit goes, Past Perfect is a really fun book.
Chelsea, 16, comes from a family of historical re-enactors,. She lives in the town of Essex, where this kind of practice seems to be the bread and butter of the population. In fact, not only Essex has a Colonial time reenactment village, but a Civil war one as well. And they're bitter, bitter enemies. So when summer begins and Chelsea, as every year before, starts to work in the village, the time for war between the factions is on. Torn between her unwillingness to let go of her past - namely, her former boyfriend - and her unsettling attraction to a rival re-enactor who could finally signify her moving forward, Chelsea, through a trial and error process, will be forced to put her memories and herself under scrutiny and realize what is the value of honesty and friendship.
First of all, the main idea of the book is stunningly good. Historical reenactment, how original. Well, at least for me. You see, I come from a country which holds a certain importance on the historical global scene, what with us having been here practically forever and having gone through numerous empires, barbaric hordes, a variety of popes, republics and so on and so forth. Yet, NEVER in my life have I had the pleasure to witness a reenactment. I don't think we have them here or if we do they're very much under the radar, mine at least. I really liked that.
Secondly, the idea that our memories work selectively according to what we actually want to remember or not of an event really appealed to me. I've done (and do) that, sadly, a lot of times, just like Chelsea did with Ezra. Maybe the majority of us do it automatically, in a effort to romanticize our lives. Considering the sheer number of books I read in a year to my "escapist syndrome", I certainly have a tendency to do it. It is exciting when you're telling someone about your recent trip to Burma or to Ushuaia, skipping the part where you got gastroenteritis or puri-puri ate you alive on a beach in Cuba, it is a bit more pathetic and not very healthy when you're talking about a relationship with your former or - even worse - present boyfriend.
Chelsea, like some other female characters that I've encountered lately (Ava in Pink for example, is not a very likable character. I really could not understand her adoration to Ezra, why she idolizes him. I did not like how she dealt with being left out of the flock. And when she finally pulls the wool away from her eyes, I did not think she deserved people forgiving her.
Yet, the book is so funny and the dialogue so brilliant that the story just sucks you in and keeps you laughing till the very last page. Chelsea, despite her feeble personality in relation to other kids her age, has an honest voice and her relationship with her father is really hilarious. The trampoline scene in the back of her yard was one of the best of the books, in my opinion.
So, if you're looking for a fresh, funny, unpretentious read spiked by historical reenactment, Past Perfect is definitely a good choice. Just make sure to tear off the completely unrelated cover first.
There is one common thread throughout all of history, it’s that people have always fallen for the wrong people.
A boy once told me that love without heartbreak is just a pretty myth.
Past Perfect is my first literary encounter with Leila Sales, and after finding her writing enjoyable and entertaining I am eager to dive into her book Mostly Good Girls. In this story, Sales presents a unique set of characters, setting and plot that not only had me engrossed within the first few pages, but also excited to see how she’d continue to infuse light history lessons throughout the book in a way that was interesting. Color me impressed!
In Past Perfect we get to meet Chelsea Glaser who along with her mom and dad have worked at Essex American Revolution historical reenactment village since the age of six. When the Summer kicks off and she discovers that her ex-boyfriend Ezra will also be working at Essex, Chelsea realizes she needs to learn to let go of her past, stop perfecting the craft of “living history” and start living in the present. Not an easy task when she begins to fall for Dan who works for the rival Civil War historical reenactment village that her group of friends is currently at war with.
I found this book enlightening in many ways. First, these reenactment villages were quite impressive. I didn’t realize how seriously some people take this stuff. The way they interact with “moderners” and how they perfect their reenactment craft through their history lessons and way of communicating was all very interesting. Second, Sales has a clever way of infusing a bit of history into her story in a way that you don’t feel schooled, but rather curious to learn more.
Most of the characters in this story were likeable, especially Dan. I enjoyed his honest revealing moments with Chelsea especially the scene with the trampoline and the night he and his crew kidnapped Chelsea during a war raid. The banter between Chelsea and Dan had me craving their scenes and I was slightly disappointed to see we didn’t get more. They had nice chemistry that Sales could have taken advantage of.
I was a bit disappointed in the art cover. I was looking forward to how that tied into the story because I thought it was adorable, but alas there was no connection between the cover and the story. Slightly disappointing considering all of the creative angles this story provided and the endless tie-ins they could have created with a nice cover. But that’s a minor point.
Overall, I enjoyed the writing, the cast and the history lesson. Well done Sales!
I don’t know how many of y’all have seen the movie Sweet Home Alabama, but it is one of my All. Time. Favorites. I love that movie so much I could see it again and again and again and again and never get bored. Yep, I love it that much. The movie takes place in Alabama (as you could probably guess), and there’s this one scene where the main character’s very Southern parents are reenacting a scene from the Civil War in which they dress up like Confederate soldiers and then pretend to be enmeshed in a battle on a hillside, then also pretend to die and just lie on the ground for a long while. It’s hilarious, really, and that scene is quite possibly my favorite one in the movie. Among fifty-three others.
Anyway, reenacting has always intrigued me. Why people find the past fascinating enough to literally reenact it. That’s why Past Perfect intrigued me, which is about Chelsea, a girl who’s recently broken up with her boyfriend, and goes to work with her friend at Essex, a place for tourists where they dress up as people in the Revolutionary War era and bring the past alive. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, okay, maybe not, but trust me, it is VERY cool.
Some of my goodreads friends had gotten access to this book a long time before its release, and they ALL loved it. (Well, except one of them—you know who you are!) And because they are awesome, one of them gave me the GalleyGrab link for it and I began it as soon as I could. I can safely say that I’m DEFINITELY on the side of the majority that adored it. I don’t know how anyone couldn’t; it’s just that cute. I liked the book from the very first line to the last.
I think it’s partly due to the fact that I instantly connected with the main character, Chelsea. Her voice and her personality are adorable. She’s realistic enough that she makes dubious choices in the book, but wise enough to learn from them. And she’s charming enough that you can empathize with her throughout the book as she fumbles her way through her romantic dilemmas. And can I just say this book has one of the most ADORABLE romances of all time? The cuteness factor pretty much killed me, it really did. But there’s heartbreak and I felt that, too, strongly enough to literally hurt. And when a book is able to do that to me, it’s instantly one of my favorites, like this one.
Of course, I have to mention Chelsea’s dad. Her dad…oh man, he was CLASSIC. I just loved their relationship. And the dad’s personality! You really have to read the book to understand it, but I was grinning every time he came up in a scene. He’s just that awesome. I loved him, basically. I don’t think I’d want him for a dad, necessarily, but he’s still pretty fantastic.
I also should mention all the Reenactment stuff. I NEED to visit a Reenactment village or whatever you call it ASAP. Because after this book, I think everyone would want to! It was, simply put, F-U-N. The whole war between the Revolutionary Warriors and Civil Warriors was also loads of fun. It was actually one of the best parts of the book! In fact, all the parts of this book are pretty awesome, so that might not be saying a lot…but I definitely loved it a lot.
So on an ending note I’ll say that book is kind of like Anna and the French Kiss, in the sense that I was smiling all throughout it and by the end practically glowing. Also like Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton, for that ‘awww’ factor. You get to learn some fun historical facts, too, along the way! And lots of other insightful things, too, that I won’t mention here, but that were…well, very insightful!
The only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is because there were parts in which I was kind of, just a little bit, not that invested. But it’s still good enough for it become one of my all-time-favorites, just like Sweet Home Alabama. Both have the same effect on me: I want to read this book all over again, too! So you should most certainly pick up a copy of it. (And watch the Sweet Home Alabama, too, if you can.)
To make it clear, it's a little bit more than 3.5 stars :) AND I think I'm becoming more and more exigent when it comes to the books I read, and I'm also becoming lazy when it comes to my reviews. This is no exception. So here come some random thoughts:
When I think about PAST PERFECT I think about myself in high school. It's not that I miss being in high school, but I miss some parts of it, and you'll get some glimpses of that inside this review too.
#1 The cover I really love it - it's beautiful, and simple. Look at that beautiful girl, with that smile, and the flower in her hair, looking so happy. It's not particularly related to the story, but it's gorgeous anyways. And it's a tiny part of my "past perfect" because I miss the rain, I miss dancing in the summer rain. I have a lot of memories that come back to me only by looking at it, and it brings such a big smile on my face.
#2 The heroine Chelsea has a great funny voice and PAST PERFECT it's a laugh-out-loud kind of book, full of irony. Even though sometimes she seemed a bit naive, I could connect with her, understand her. She reminded me of my younger self and she made me smile a lot. I could understand why she wanted to please her friends, and why she needed to be loved again - off course she did some mistakes and from time to time I wanted to shake her and make her realize how silly she was, but some other times I just wanted to hug her for being such a sweetheart.
#3 The setting Who said history is boring?... Well I would have said it in high school probably, but only because I didn't like my teacher (he didn't like me either so I'm fine with it). Chelsea's job is to get dressed in historical clothes and pretend for the day that she leaves in the past. I would love such a summer job. And this is not even the most interesting part. Because there is a war going on behind the scenes (between the people working at Essex, and the people working for the competition). And that really is something fun to watch.
# 4 The love story Chelsea + Dan = ♥? Well their story was sweet for the first half and strange on the other. First let's meet our sweethearts: - Chelsea (behind the scenes) the Colonial lieutenant at Essex Historical Colonial Village - Dan, the enemy, a civil warrior (from the competition)
So I liked the way they met, in the middle of that war (who wouldn't like to be taken hostage by a good-looking guy?). And they were cute together (most of the time). And I loved their first kiss, it was sweet. I have a soft spot for first kisses - in the way some people collect stamps I would collect first-kiss-memories if I could ;)) BUT - there's always a 'but … ,' right? I didn't really understand Dan, I couldn't get him. He loved to sing and he didn't enjoy that much working for the Civil War Reenactment, but why did he care about what people thought about him being with Chelsea? It didn't make sense.. and what about the "tomb stone" - did he know or did he not?
#5 The triangle wanna be.. or not so much? Chelsea + Dan - the Ex = ♥? Ezra (sounds like a strange name but maybe is just me), Chelsea's ex boyfriend, was another character that I didn't quite understand. I don't really know why did Chelsea like him so much, but at some point or another in the past I might as well have liked some guy without deserving it, so maybe I'm just being a little bit hypocrite. I didn't like him. He seemed to be manipulative, and he had an ego the size of mount Everest, and in the 'full memories' he acted like a big-fat-jerk. BTW, I liked how she kept remembering parts of her past being perfect, but when she really looked into them she realized how not-so-perfect her love story really was. Because we all keep our good memories when it comes to the past relationships and forget the bad ones, it felt so damn real (in fact this is probably true if you are the dumped one, if not it's more like it to go the other way around). Anyways, I must say that if something is over it happens for a reason, you should keep that in mind in the real life, it might save you from a heartbreak.
#4 The war game It remind me a tiny bit of On the Jellicoe Road (really, really tiny bit) but I don't know why it worked better in that story. Here it just got a bit out of control. It awed me to see how far could they go with this war .
Now, there would be a lot of other things to talk about, but as I said I am too lazy to put them into words. There were some things that really bothered me and I had to lower a bit the rating, but somehow I just couldn't leave this book behind.. it made me think about a lot of things from the past, because we all had our past perfect.. and it was perfect (right?) while it lasted.
PS: I know, the rainy girl from the review-cover has nothing to do with the story, but it matches the book cover, so that's OK ;)
- I liked "Past Perfect" and I think it was a really cute and enjoyable, well-tied story. - I liked both the 16-years-old heroine, Chelsea, and her love interest. - I even came to like Chelsea's best friend Fiona as the story progressed. She redeemed herself in my eyes at the end. - I liked the trampoline scene. It was sufficiently romantic. - I didn't like Chelsea's parents at all, but I think normal, but rather unlikable parents are something which can happen to anyone in real life. For instance, I can totally relate to that forever talking, but unobservant Dad. - I like the title. Although the cover has no connection to the plot whatsoever - apart from the chalk-board rain, which reminds of the make-believe-lives of the colonial times reenactors - the book's title is pretty perfect for the story for several reasons: * Both the people working for the Essex Colonial Times Village and the staff at the Civil War Reenactmentland are required to represent "their" own era as a rather faultless one. Paying Tourists shall be sprinkled with interesting tidbits about American history, but they are not to be weighed down by dark and ugly pieces of their ancestors' lives during their family holdiday trip. Slavery is something not existing at Essex and African-Americans seeking a job as historical interpreters are assigned historical middle-class jobs and inserted into normal fake-families like everyone else of the crew. * For the reenactors the past never turns into past perfect, because their days are like those in the film "Ground Hog Day": Everything that ever happened within a certain time span on the grounds - or even far from them - is treated as something that has happened just now, because the tourists want the illusion of the past being present. * Chelsea's problems at accepting the present and the future are anchored to her way of memorizing the past: Our definition of what happened to us, the essence of what we determine the true past to be depends on what we choose to remember. Do we remember the happy moments and filter out the ugly scratches? Do we see mainly the sunless days and bury the picture of raindrops gleaming in the rain in inaccessible archives of our brain? Are we able to mix and match so our past resembles that of others? Is a perfect memory of anything possible at all? Were our feelings of yesterday real although we don't feel them anymore today? - I was a bit annoyed by the War game between the teenage summer staff of the Essex village and the underage Civil War crew. Although I didn't mind a similar plot element in "Jellicoe Road" at all, I thought that the sincerity of the whole hateful set-up in "Past Perfect" was more than a bit childish and forced and strange for a bunch of high schoolers, who partly were about to start college. Especially the forbidden-love-element felt absolutely unbelievable to me. - Each historical interpreter was handed one costume including undergarments for one long and hot summer? Really? Boy, those kids must stink. I wonder how the mentioned vistors can be hungry all the time. - I do love ice-cream, too. I can eat it all year round, I can fit a big helping into my stomach when everything else threatens to burst through my belly-button, I never tire of it's cold creaminess and I would like to be an connoisseur, too.
This was the nerdiest, dorkiest book ever. And it was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that the minute I finished the book, I googled Colonial Williamsburg. (PS. Their website address is www.history.org *Russell Crowe in Gladiator voice* NERDS UNITE.)
Like the great rivalries of yore -- Montagues vs Capulets, Jets vs Sharks, Lucille I vs Lucille II -- the Colonials and the Civil Warriors are enmeshed in a decades long battle. It started when Civil War Reenactmentland had the audacity to open across the street from Colonial Essex Village. This much history in one place may sound too good to be true, but according to the Colonial Williamsburg website, there's a Historic Jamestowne less than 10 miles away. However, they just formed a partnership.
Our heroine Elizabeth Connelly, government name: Chelsea Glaser, is descended from historical interpreters, i.e., her parents do this shit too. Her life has been Colonial Essex Village since she was 6 years old. This familiarity with the land and the history gets her elected as the Colonials' Lieutenant. Right after she's elected though, she gets captured by some Civil Warriors including a tall, handsome fella, an Ultimate Warrior if you will.
Look, some people descend from reenactors and some people descend from WWF fans. Thanks, Grandpa.
What follows, besides Cold! Hard! Vengeance!, is the geekiest prank war imaginable. It's the battle of anachronisms, which to a historical interpreter is akin to slapping them on the face AND insulting their mama. Chelsea and co. strike back by placing phones, those modern, newfangled contraptions, throughout Reenactmentland right before opening time.
You can discover the rest of the shenanigans for yourself, including some thorough discussion about ice cream.
Oh, but it can, Draco.
I was pleasantly surprised and very amused by Past Perfect. I loved the tone, the humor, the setting, and even those slutty milliner girls. It reminded me a bit of an angst-free Jellicoe Road. I highly recommend this book -- and then we can all road trip to Colonial Williamsburg together! Leila Sales even made a Past Perfect playlist for us via Spotify! http://bit.ly/obw8MX
For a novel peopled with re-enactors, it reads surprisingly authentic: fun characters, believable relationships, and a sweet love connection. Have I mentioned how easy to like the characters are? Comparable to Anna and the French Kiss, had Chelsea and Dan not veered off into their conversations of love and history. I want my fluff fluffy less sappy deep conversations. (I'm in a very give-me-something-easy mood.) And yes, Past Perfect supplies that and more. It is a feel good book made to make one enjoy.
A number of really good parts: Fiona, honest… and harsh when needs be, but there. I loved her. The jokes. Seriously, left me feeling like I did when I was reading Anna and Ettiene. The War. The rivalry between Chelsea’s and Dan’s camps is reminiscent of the one in Jellicoe Road. And mentions of ice cream? The pros and cons and rating the same. What fun they had! Seriously? This was one hilarious read.
So, snark? Humor? Likeable characters who screw up and read real? Check. Check. Check.
The more I think about Past Perfect, the more I like it. It's a quick, fun, and entertaining read, but not until a few hours after I'd finished did I realise just how much I adored the story. It definitely has a fluff element to it, and while there is mucho adorable - looking at you, Dan - it gets surprisingly real at times, without the story every getting truly dark or heavy. This is one of those books where I would have loved another 50 or 100 pages, not because it desperately needed it to tie up loose ends or provide closure, but purely because I wasn't ready to leave the story yet.
Chelsea has worked at Essex Historical Colonial Village for almost as long as she can remember, and was looking forward to finally getting a normal job when her drama club friend roped her into another summer of role-playing in sweating colonial garb. If it wasn't bad enough, her ex-boyfriend has started working there as well. If she can ever get over him, there's a cute boy from the rival civil war reenactors across the road...
Chelsea's voice was immediately captivating, clever and wry. She's quirky and a little neurotic, and so very relatable. She acted self-centered and oblivious at times, but the inclusion of flaws made for a more realistically developed character.
The war between the rival historical reenactors was hilarious, and reminded me of a lighter, simpler Jellicoe Road. Part of the comedy was in how the characters took themselves and their work way too seriously. They place anachronisms like mobile phones in the civil war village and plan it in austere fashion with a leader who treats it all like the actual war. They throw pejoratives like 'farb' around and take it with extreme offense.
The highlight, however, was the romance. Dan and Chelsea's relationship melted even decidedly unromantic me. Their interactions in the odd situations they were thrown together is were just unbearably cute, and by the end their romance becomes touching on a whole other level.
Past Perfect also reminded me of something John Green said in his vlogs: "You don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened." (A quote aptly butchered by memory). Misremembering proves to be an intriguingly large part of the story. There were deeper themes beyond the fluffy, feel-good exterior.
But Past Perfect is, at its simplest, an adorable and warming read.
This book is for everyone who went out last week to get Lola And The Boy Next Door, finished it the same day, and can't wait until Isla comes out for their cute, fun romance fix. Or just anyone who wants a cute, fun romance fix.
I give Past Perfect a 5 out of 5.
P.S. Has anyone read Leila Sales' other book, Mostly Good Girls? Is it as good as this one?
A lot of my Goodreads friends had extremely enjoyed Past Perfect, so I was really looking forward to reading it and I did thoroughly enjoy it. However what surprised me the most was discovering that I had a new found love for REENACTMENTS! Yes that’s right reenactments. Past perfect just made me want to run away and join some re-enacting group straight away!
Past Perfect tells the story of two history villages who are within walking distance of each other; Reenactmentland who do civil war reenactments and Colonial Essex village who do revolutionary war reenactments. Both villages have always had a competitive rivalry or “war” between them, and each summer break they pull pranks on one another, always trying to out do the other village. The plotting against one another and coming out with plans of attack made me wish so much that I was there part of the Essex village re-enacting with them!
The characters in Past perfect were absolutely awesome! I don’t think there’s ever been a book where I‘ve liked nearly every character, from Chelsea the strong protagonist who always had me cracking up, I found Fiona absolutely hysterical and her love for Nat and his ponytail, Bryan and his toadlike features, Chelsea’s dad with his rhetorical questions, Dan what a sweetie!, Tawny, Mr. Zelinsky, the Milliner girls and their endless love for gossip. Basically I could go on forever, each character brought so much to the story and I found them sooooo funny! They kept me entertained throughout the entire book! There were also so many awesome quotes that I wish I could have included in this review. They made me sigh and laugh out loud so many times!
Past perfect was such a fun and enjoyable read, I will definitely be buying myself a copy once it comes out.
Three stars: This is an easy, entertaining read that takes place in a historical re- enactment village.
This book follows Chelsea Glaser, a sixteen year old, who has spent the majority of her young life working in a Colonial Reenactment village in Essex Virginia. Her visions of finally having a job in the mall for the summer are quickly squelched when her best friend begs and pleads for her to work at the village again so they can be together. Now Chelsea's summer consists of wearing full, heavy, sweltering Colonial garb. Forget carrying a cell phone, wearing makeup or fingernail polish because in order to fulfill her historical role as Elizabeth Connelly, she must leave behind any item that is anachronistic. Instead of spending her days in the air conditioned mall, ogling cute boys she recites historical facts, repeatedly gives directions to the bathroom and poses for countless photos with moderners. To make matters worse her ex boyfriend shows up as an employee at the village. Chelsea is still nursing the broken heart Ezra handed to her when he dumped her almost three months ago. However, things are not all bad at the Colonial village. Every summer the teenage kids from Essex engage in a retaliatory type warfare with the re-enactors from across the street in Civil War Land. Chelsea on her first day is nominated for first lieutenant and then promptly kidnapped by the Civil Warriors. One of her captors, a handsome Confederate named Dan, seems to know a great deal about her. Suddenly she finds herself attracted to him but a relationship with one of those "farbs" is treason. Will she risk being labeled a traitor to pursue a relationship or will she find a way back into Ezra's arms?
What I Liked: *The setting of this book. I was fascinated by the workings of the Reenactment Villages. As a girl who has grown up on the West coast, I have not had the privilege of visiting a Colonial or Civil War historical setting. My knowledge of Reenactment pertains to Western Ghost Towns and The Renaissance Fair. I have always wondered what drives people to parade around in full historical regalia, acting and speaking like someone who just stepped out of a history book. I thought are these people just weird or crazy? Leila Sales sheds some light on the subject in this book. I discovered that life in a reenactment village is taken dead seriously. These people are passionate about history and they strive to authentically bring it back to life. Failure to be completely accurate will earn you the label of "farb". After reading this book I now have a desire to visit one of these locations. *This is a light, funny book. Ms. Sales' witty commentary and sparse scattering of sarcasm make this an enjoyable read. One of the more comical parts of the book occurred when Chelsea's parents told her they needed to have a "talk". You expect a typical teenage scolding regarding the usual topics; sex, drinking, etc. Instead they proceed to convey their concerns over her potentially fraternizing with anyone from The Civil War Camp. Seriously!? This book is appropriate for young adult readers of all ages. The only caution is that it contains a light, smattering of swear words. *I liked Chelsea's epiphany regarding the perception of history; as humans we tend to remember the rosy, happy portions of events when we recollect, thus we often romanticize our memories and deliberately cut out the unpleasant parts. When Chelsea finally removes her rose colored glasses and re-examines her relationship with Ezra she gains a surprisingly new perspective. I liked the way she finally grew and matured. I appreciated that Ms. Sales provides some new ideas on the predominant accounts of history.
And The Not So Much: *I had a hard time connecting with the characters in this book. Aside from Chelsea, none of the others are well developed. Her best friend, Fiona, comes across as shallow, immature and self-absorbed. I was exceedingly annoyed with her until the end when she gives some startling insight. Chelsea's father is completely wrapped up in the Colonial Village. He is so egotistical; until the latter part of the book when he finally imparts some wisdom on historical perception. I was also disappointed in Dan. I admired his character but he did not participate as much as I would have liked. Ezra, is the typical ex boyfriend, the guy she truly is better without. Chelsea's mother only appeared to play the typical mom character; to ask if she is ok, who is at the door etc. I did like Chelsea but I grew tired of her pining over Ezra. *The story despite being set in the unique re-enactment villages is unfortunately predictable. It was easy to ascertain how things would turn out. There were no wrenches thrown into the story. Even though it is easy to predict, it was entertaining throughout and I appreciated the neat resolution. *The cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I think it should have someone dressed up in historical wardrobe.
Overall Past Perfect is an enjoyable reading experience. I would recommend this book for the setting alone but I also appreciated Ms. Sales' insight on perceptions of history. This is a book that is appropriate for all ages. This is a novel I would perhaps suggest that you borrow from a friend or the library but if you decide to purchase it you won't be disappointed.
Favorite Quotations: "I replied that if the only positive thing you can say about a person is that he has a "good head," then there is probably something malformed about the rest of him."
"I think love without heartbreak is a myth."
"The thing about historical reenactors, is they'll reenact anything. Even if it just happened a couple of weeks ago."
If only Leila Sales actually knew she was writing a farce, this book would have been delightful. I feel like the premise suggests a Napoleon Dynamite style droll, tongue-in-cheek telling more than it does an Elizabethan drama. Unfortunately, Sales took (and let her characters take) their War way too seriously, and I found myself rolling my eyes for the first 2/3 of the book when taking it seriously was ridiculous, and then sighing in frustration at the 2/3 mark where Sales apparently started to worry that maybe her characters were taking their War too seriously so she introduced violence to make it Serious. Here's the deal:
We basically have a Romeo and Juliet story where the R&J work for separate historical re-enactment parks in Virginia -- one Revolutionary War era and the other Civil War. The teenagers who work for these parks participate in what they call The War after hours. This means that they play pranks on each other. Do you already understand why this might be awesomely hilarious if the tone were deadpan silly like Napoleon Dynamite, but the content is kind of laughable if these characters honestly can't be together because of their Montague and Capulet historical re-enactment "families?" For the first 2/3 of the book, both sides clearly enjoy participating in The War and there is no precedent for real danger or nastiness. Then, suddenly, long after Chelsea and Dan have fallen for each other and talked about how impossible it would be for them to be together because of The War, there's an altercation that ends in violence, which makes it really seriously actually more impossible for them to be together because their opposing sides have really become Enemies.
Yet of course in the end, Chelsea and Dan can be together. That just doesn't seem like a remotely satisfying revelation for them to have, when it's so obvious to the rest of us from page 1 that as a sole obstacle to romance, that one is about as insurmountable as a blade of grass.
There are a few things about this book that I think are well done. I would say the best, by far, is Sales' depiction of Chelsea's grieving process for her breakup with Ezra. Her realization that she is mis-remembering and idealizing the relationship is particularly profound, and any instances of artful prose in the book come in these passages.
But this book is rarely as much fun as it ought to be. Being a teenager and falling in love is awesome. Being a teenager and hanging out with your friends on summer nights, playing pranks or doing whatever, is awesome. Being a teenager and having a fun, random job instead of a stupid sales of fast food job is awesome. Sure, things that go on in your head/heart are difficult and some people you have to deal with are awful. But when you're falling in love and you have friends and a fun job, most days you manage to be really glad that you're young and it's summer and things are the way they are. The percentage of time that Sales/Chelsea seem to have this perspective is sadly minimal.
I got This Song Will Save Your Life and Past Perfect at the same time, and even after being depressed by Song, I went on and read Past Perfect because it didn't seem like it was going to be about bullying and suicide. And I was correct about that in a basic way. But I've concluded from reading both books that Sales is definitely an author who will pass up most opportunities to write something fun and happy if she has any option to write something negative instead. This is certainly a realistic personality type, but not what I'm looking for in an author. Especially one whose works are allegedly happy.
It seems to me like Sales is trying to write young female protagonists who are unique, smart (or at least reasonably intelligent if not bookish), and whose interests are quirky-cool. I also get the feeling that depression is a common theme. I'm all for that -- it sounds like a recipe for a book with which I will identify, and which I ought to like. The fact that I've been left feeling blah twice now means I'm probably not going to try again, and I'm really disappointed that I've failed to find a kindred spirit and author I'd strongly recommend where I had every expectation of discovering a new favorite.
Oh how this cover lies. This cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story, no matter how cute it looks. I know covers are really for sales, and I may be able to forgive this if the book gets more sales because of the cover. Still, I can't see any connection.
But anyway, in Past Perfect, Chelsea is stuck in the past -- literally and figuratively. Chelsea is back to work for the summer in the Essex Historical Colonial Village, where she dresses up as a colonial woman named Elizabeth Connelly, and it was really the last place she wanted to be. She wanted to get out even more when she finds that her ex-boyfriend and first love, Ezra, is also working in Essex. And she's far from getting over him. But when Chelsea falls for a guy from the Civil War Reenactmentland next door who has been at war with Essex for as long as they can remember, it makes Chelsea's summer a little more complicated than what she expected.
Past Perfect is my first Leila Sales read, but I've been curious about her other book, Mostly Good Girls, because of the good reviews it has been getting. I was really glad that Galley Grab had this up in their list. :) I love that the book is set in a historical village -- I'm not too fond of history back in school, but if I had the chance to visit places like this, I probably would like it a lot more! I'm not sure if we have a historical village here in the Philippines. I think the closest we have of one is in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, but I don't think it's even close to what Chelsea had at Essex.
Chelsea is a real darling in this novel, and she's someone I would like to be friends with. She's funny, witty and honest -- far from perfect as she makes some pretty stupid decisions in the book, but all in good faith and she learned from it in the end. I liked how even if she didn't really like working in Essex, she still considers her friends there as family, at least even for the summer. I wasn't able to get any summer jobs when I was in school because summer was really just for lazing around or attending YFC activities, but I also do know the feeling of having a "summer family". I also really liked Fiona, Chelsea's best friend. She seems like a really good friend and one of those who will definitely have your back even if she seems flighty at first. The supporting characters were also quite stellar, and I think the thing that made them so fun was the war. I don't think I could ever be a part of a war like that. I have no competitive bone in my body. I loved reading about the strategies and the intimidation and such, though. :D
I also liked how the idea of moving on is tackled in this book. It's true: sometimes we tend to idolize certain experiences or people because they're the only things we can hold onto when it's all over, but when you really think about it, these moments in history aren't always the shining, shimmering, splendid moments we thought they were. We tend to wear rose-colored glasses over some things and people, and when it's time to move on, we need to remove it and see things as they really are and not as what we want it. I liked how this lesson was juxtaposed with the actual historical setting that the characters worked in. It made what Chelsea learned more resonant somehow.
I didn't exactly fall head over heels in love with this book, because the "I could relate to this!" factor was kind of low. However, it is a very fun novel, and I can't think of anything that I disliked about this. Now to get myself a copy of Mostly Good Girls. :)
Sometimes there is nothing that will satisfy a reader such as myself like a good piece of sweet fluff. That is not in any way meant as an insult towards “Past Perfect” and other such books, there’s no such room for genre snobbery in my eyes. While genre fiction such as horror, romance and the romantic comedy, which is how I would classify this book, are the first to be mocked or derided, it’s worth remembering that it’s pretty damn hard to write a convincing and entertaining piece of genre fiction. Writing a romantic comedy that can use familiar tropes of the genre and remain charming and entertaining is a tough task, and I’m pleased to say that, for the most part, Leila Sales pulls it off.
The unconventional setting – a colonial village re-enactment centre - and set-up for the novel creates countless opportunities for entertainment and mayhem. Some of the funniest moments of the book come from the over-the-top and gleefully ridiculous war plans between the colonial re-enactment workers and the civil war re-enactors right across the road. It’s incredibly petty and immature but there’s something undeniably funny about Churchill war speech parodies and battle strategies that revolve around historical anachronisms. This element of the book was definitely my favourite part and I only wish more time had been dedicated to it rather than Chelsea’s love life.
While I appreciated that Sales spent some time deconstructing the rose-tinted image of her ex boyfriend that Chelsea had built up for herself, so much time is spent with Chelsea in moping mode that it became very tiresome. I think one’s mileage may vary for such scenes and will depend on the reader’s emotions towards Chelsea. I did not find her to be a particularly brilliant protagonist. She had her moments – I enjoyed her ice-cream taste testing – and I greatly appreciated her close relationship with her quirky parents and group of friends, but said moping grated on me. She also makes a couple of plot driving decisions that made me lose all sympathy for her. If I was to pick a character in the novel to follow, it would be Tawny, the general of the colonial workers in the war.
There was one element of the romance plotline that really got to me. This small rant is partly inspired by this book but is also something I’ve had on my mind for a while so please take this with a pinch of salt when considering reading this book for yourself. Dan, the primary love interest of the novel, is set up in a forbidden love style element (a “Romeo & Juliet” parallel is actually mentioned by Chelsea, but since the war between both sides spends most of its time in war parody mode, don’t take that comparison too seriously) so of course there needs to be a degree of animosity between the pair, coupled with that trademark jerk charm so common with male love interests. I’ve become rather fed up with books, mainly YA, where the male love interest is characterised by being charming when he’s really a smug know-it-all that borders on insulting. Chelsea’s often not very likeable but generally I find it difficult to believe that every teenage girl is charmed and seduced by this sort of behaviour. The fact that such behaviour is often the only defining characteristic of many male love interests is even more infuriating for me. Luckily, Dan is given more depth than this but it does make the romance between him and Chelsea harder to believe considering her own decisions.
The key to this book lies in its charm. Sales writes a well paced and often very funny book with witty observations, an interesting supporting cast to prop up a less than perfect protagonist, and a whole assortment of pranks, jokes and completely ridiculous war parodies with just a pinch of history. “Past Perfect” won’t be considered groundbreaking by any standards, and the romance angle will be read differently by different readers depending on one’s opinion of such elements, but it’s a quick read with bagfuls of charm you could have a lot of fun reading.
“Past Perfect” will be released in USA on October 4th. I received my arc from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab program.
Yup. That cover still baffles me. Believe it or not, this book isn't about a girl in a raincoat having a chalk-induced allergy attack. And that tag line? Puh-LEASE. This is about historical reenactment turf wars! With pranks! Sabotage! Banter! Intrigue! Pithy historical one-liners! And consorting/cavorting/carousing with the enemy! That cover does this book NO justice. Past Perfect is so much fun and totally cracked me up. I also liked the tribute to relationship revisionist history. There's nothing like being dumped to transform a dude into the most perfect! boyfriend! evar! Oh giiiiiiirl. We've all been there. And finally, yay for girl BFFs in YA that are actually BFFs! And one more thing but it's a spoiler:
So, so, SO funny. I could not stop giggling my head off while I read this on the bus, on the train, and at the airport--basically, any moment I had, I devoured PAST PERFECT.
The main character, Chelsea, is completely likable, the love interest is absolutely swoon-worthy, and the secondary characters are just perfect.
But the highlight of this book is definitely the setting. It's just such a unique place for a book to take place, and the whole premise of a war between reenactment parks? LOVE IT. Chelsea's sense of humor (so sarcastic, so hilarious) melds perfectly with the "colonial" backdrop.
The only thing I'd have liked more of is the kissing. ;) But that's just because the kisses were SO DELICIOUSLY SWOON-WORTHY.
If you're looking for a laugh-out-loud, endearing romance, then be sure to pick up PAST PERFECT.
this book was really quick and really fun! you can fly through it in a few hours. i feel like overall, this book was so close to being great, but didn't quite reach it. it was close to bringing out the feels, but it didn't. the love interest was close to swoon-worthy, but he wasn't. the deeper messages were close to being well-executed, but they weren't really. it suffered from having this potential to be excellent, but not quite reaching that level. nonetheless, this book was cute and fun and it talks a lot about ice cream so it'd be good to have a pint close when you're reading.
Spousta teenagerů si přes léto zařídí nějakou brigádu, to není nic neobvyklého ani v našich zeměpisných šířkách, ale co byste říkali na to, že byste celé léto pracovali jako exponát v živé historické vesnici a museli dennodenně odpovídat na ty samé otázky zvědavých turistů?
Přesně takovou práci má Chelsea, přestože by raději pracovala v obchodním centru, stejně jako její vrstevníci. Chelsea v Essexské koloniální vesnici v podstatě vyrostla. Její otec tam dělá stříbrníka celá léta a ona už jako malá běhala okolo v historických šatech a nechávala si říkat svým historickým jménem Elizabeth Conelly. Ačkoliv doufala, že letos to bude jiné, její nejlepší kamarádka Fiona ji přemluvila k tomu, že tam budou pracovat spolu. Původní vidina společného léta se svou nejlepší kamarádkou a tunami zmrzliny ale ztratila na významu, když Chelsea zjistila, že bude pracovat ve stejném areálu i kluk, který jí před nedávnou dobou zlomil srdce. Ale Erza nakonec není jednou věcí, se kterou se musí vyrovnat.
Essex má svou silnou konkurenci, která je vzdálena jen na šířku ulice; živou verzi tábora z dob občanské války. Už po mnoho let je mezi těmito dvěma historickými atrakcemi Válka. Je to Válka, která nemá konce a Chelsea letos zastává důležitou roli: byla zvolena poručíkem, druhou nejdůležit��jší osobou ve Válce, hned po jejich schopné generálce Tawny.
V první večer ale zjistila, že její vážená pozice má svá nebezpečí. Nejen, že se hned v den jejich prvního oficiálního setkání stala obětí únosu, ale nesla těžkou odpovědnost za průběh celé války. A bylo to o to horší, že se jejímu srdci zachtělo nepřátelského vojáka.
Tuhle knihu mi na goodreads doporučila Bea (za což jí moc děkuji!). Nevím, v jakém jsem zrovna byla rozpoložení, ale vzpomínám si, že jsem chtěla číst něco vtipného, nebo šíleně romantického. V komentářích mi přišlo několik návrhů a já se naprosto zamilovala do obálky právě Past Perfect (paradoxem ale je, že obálka nemá vůbec nic společného s příběhem). V ten den jsem přečetla jen několik stran a pak to odložila, občas dalších pár stran přečetla ve škole, ale nijak se o tu knihu nezajímala. Dokud jsem jednou neuvázla v koloně na dálnici a rozhodla se, že něco začnu číst. V telefonu jsem naštěstí měla jen dvě knihy: Eragona, kterého jsem nedávno úspěšně dokončila, a Past Perfect. Volba tedy byla jasná.
Na této knize obdivuji, jak je to psané. Leila píše strašně čtivě a já se do knihy okamžitě ponořila tak moc, že jsem nemohla odtrhnout. Celý příběh nádherně plynul, a i když jsem zatím nepřečetla tolik knih v angličtině (přečetla jsem jich zhruba do deseti), četla jsem bez větších zádrhelů.
Druhou věcí, co mě vážně zaujala, byl nápad. Psát z prostředí historické vesnice se mi zdá originální a vážně zajímavé. Je to neotřelé prostředí, které se jenom tak nevidí a dokonce si myslím, že z pozice autora to chce i jistou dávku odvahy. Dokonce jsem se dozvěděla několik zajímavých faktů, a přestože nejsem žádný velký fanda do historie, opravdu mě to nijak nerušilo. Sice tam bylo pár skutečností, které mi úplně nesedly (např. že všichni nosili stejné oblečení), ale stejně to nezměnilo můj názor na knihu jako celek. Navíc bylo docela zábavné sledovat, jak přicházeli turisté a ptali se věci, co by mě ani nenapadly, protože se mi zdá absurdní, ale Chelsea vždy s úsměvem odpovídala.
Chelsea je výbornou hrdinkou, se kterou jsem si skvěle sedla. Je to normální holka, která nedávno sice utrpěla velkou ránu, ale chce žít dál a prostě zapomenout. Přemýšlela asi jako každá holka po rozchodu a s bolavým srdce, ale nebyla v žádné temné depresi a stále nefňukala, protože chtěla Ezru zpátky. Dokonce se hodlala posunout v životě a ve vztazích dál. Bohužel si ale vybrala Dana, kluka, který pro ni byl naprosto nedostupný. Nebo nedostupný spíš měl být.
Celá ta věc Erza-Chelsea-Dan se na první pohled možná zdá jako další ohranný milostný trojúhelník, ale není to tak. Chelsea to má v hlavě v pořádku a ví, že to s Erzou je dávno pasé. Přestože se stále otáčí do minulosti, snaží se dostat do přítomnosti. A možná i chce, aby se její přítomností stal Dan. Jenomže bratříčkovat se s nepřítelem… to není dobré. A už vůbec ne ve Válce.
Tahle kniha se nezabývala jen tou romantickou stránkou věci, ale hlavně konkurencí mezi dvěma společnostmi, loajalitou a také mezilidskými vztahy, kterou jsou nezbytnou součástí života všech. A ano, vlastně to ani není nejromantičtější kniha, kterou jsem kdy četla, ale musím uznat, že tam bylo opravdu několik kouzelných momentů, které mi vykouzlily úsměv na rtech - a to především momenty právě s Danem, který byl prostě cute, a já si ho absolutně zamilovala.
Past Perfect je kniha, kterou rozhodně doporučuji. Komukoliv. Je to pohodová kniha s několika dobrými nápady jak zničit historickou vesnici a také s mnoha doporučeními na skvělou zmrzlinu. Je to miloučká knížka se sympatickými postavami, skvělou hlavní hrdinkou a špetkou historie. Opravdu nelituji času, který jsem s knihou strávila, protože jsem si ho užívala plnými doušky a rozhodně se k této knize chci někdy vrátit. Jedinou věcí, která mě trochu mrzí, je konec, který byl hodně otevřený a možná malinko useknutý (moc by mě totiž zajímalo, jaký byl celý osud obou atrakcí a také všech postav). Ale i přes tento malý detail dávám plný počet hvězdiček, protože kniha jako tato si to zaslouží.
"Nezáleží na tom, co se stalo. Záleží jen na tom, jak si to chceme pamatovat."
So glad that a galley of Past Perfect by Leila Sales became available in the Simon and Schuster GalleyGrab because I've been curious about the author. Plus, I've heard nothing but good things about her debut novel, Mostly Good Girls, so I jumped at the chance to read this. I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to post my review closer to the release date, October 4.
Don't you just love that cover? Everything about it is cute - from the chalky raindrops to the pink font to the girl wearing a green rain coat and a flower clip. It's kind of weird that the novel is set in summertime but the cover depicts a rainy day. Also, I don't think the cover represents the historical village where Chelsea works for the summer. It still looks fun though and I wouldn't be surprised if readers are encouraged to buy the book based on just the cover design. The contents of the book go well with the cover in terms of being light and fun. It's all about Chelsea's summer vacation and how she spends it by working at the historical village of Essex. Her parents are full-time employees of Essex so she's been working there ever since she was a child but she was never really that into it. This year is different because it's the first time that Chelsea's best friend, Fiona, will be with her. Even though Chelsea would rather work at the mall like a normal teenage girl, she thinks being at Essex won't be so bad with Fiona there. Her ex-boyfriend Ezra unexpectedly turns up as well. To complicate matters, Chelsea gets nominated as the Lieutenant in their war games against the teen employees of the other historical village in town.
I liked that Past Perfect is set in a historical village because that's something different. I don't think we have anything like that here in the Philippines? If we did, I'd enjoy visiting it. Even though I'm not that familiar with American history, I didn't have any problems with the historical facts thrown around in this book. I guess I just wasn't able to appreciate them as much as an American reader would be able to. I think it's great that history was portrayed as something a bit nerdy but still fun. The reenactors in both camps take their jobs very seriously. The war games between the two sites was also interesting and I thought of it as a less intense version of the turf war in Jellicoe Road. I would have liked the romance to be more developed, it felt like there weren't enough swoon-worthy scenes for me to be totally on-board. Overall, I enjoyed reading Past Perfect and would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA but I didn't fall in love with it like I was expecting. I think I'm in the minority I'm still curious about Mostly Good Girls though.
I have said this before. I want Leila Sales to be my best friend. Her sense of humor is stunningly funny. She writes relationships the way they are or can be. Teenage years are angst-ridden. On the other hand, they aren't as complicated as some books would have us believe. For instance, our protagonist, Chelsea, sleeps over at Ezra's house. Not THAT kind of sleeping over, she falls asleep on his bed with him all cuddled up cute. No sex, just sleep. Chelsea wakes up and watches him breathe because it's the romantic thing to do. But then it gets boring. She texts a few of her friends. She finishes the book she has in her purse. She creates animals in the ceiling texture (I made that one up) and Ezra sleeps on. She nudges him. He pushes her away, may have sworn at her and tells her to leave the dead alone. Finally, she gets bored and goes home. He wakes up and is ticked that she left.
No creepy vampire who never sleeps watching every rise and fall of the chest. No memorizing the tiny, downy hairs on the skin, no smelling of the morning sleep smell. I've watched my husband sleep. I love him. But even I get antsy after about 48 seconds of it.
Sales first book made me laugh like I was reading an episode of Seinfeld. She gave the characters personality and flair without overdoing it. I'm sure she takes her craft seriously but her writing style and character development isn't taken so seriously that each descriptor is written like poetry. It's fun. It's funny. It's how people talk. This continued with the second book but with some differences. I would call them improvements and I thought the first book was a LOT of fun.
The first part of the book is setting up. This is Chelsea. This is Fiona. This is Ezra. Here are the bit players. Now meet the enemy camp. Here's Dan. He's cute. He's tall. We don't over analyze his looks, smell, or whatever else. Now the reader can create him in her mind. Here are the antics of their war. This is where Sales has me laughing out loud. Not so much what they did but their interactions. During a serious confrontation between Ezra and Chelsea, she makes her retort, hitches up her Colonial dress, straddles her bicycle, shoves her helmet over her cap, and peddles away.
Don't read this late at night. I can't believe how hard I laughed at this one paragraph. I was much too tired to stop myself. I had to put myself to bed just to gain control.
The second part of the book ties it all together. The way Chelsea and history are intertwined in an unhealthy manner. The way history is interpreted. Who interprets it. How all is not fair in love and war. How Chelsea grows as a person. It was sweet but not too sweet. It was perfect.
Reasons for my rating (not a review!): I can see why this is compared to Psych Major Syndrome. Although the settings differ, some of the issues the main characters go through are very similar. Problems I had with each book were similar too. There were some differences, which made rating difficult. I enjoyed the sense of humour in this A LOT more (actually LOVED it), and overall this is better written. However, there isn't nearly as much swooning happening in this one when there was more than plenty in Psych Major Syndrome. Psych Major Syndrome got 3 stars from me but made it to my enjoyed shelf. So my decision for Past Perfect is it gets 4 stars (when it's actually 3.5) but doesn't make it to my enjoyed shelf for lack of swooning.
When I found out about this book I added it to my wishlist straightaway, knowing I had to check it out. This is my first book by Leila Sales and all I can say, is that if her other books are as good as this, I’ll definitely be reading them!
Chelsea was at times a little self-centered but was always a quirky, fun loving, relatable character. All the characters were true to life and acted like real teens with faults and imperfections, which was refreshing to read. Even though Dan was the enemy, he was definite swoon material and wished he could have been in it more!
Sales’s prose was enjoyable as it was easy to connect with and breezy to read.
The Colonial Village setting was great and totally different to what you would normally read about. It was such a unique place to set a story but it worked really well.
Whenever I picked this up to read again I fell into the same pace, like I’d never left it. Endless smiles - this is such a fun book, that I would totally recommend! I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next.
Another disappointment. Really, I had immensely high expectations for this book, but overall, it was just so ... bland. Chelsea's problems seemed insignificant, I really didn't understand how she got so worked up about minor things .
I used to love these kind of contemporary novels - not actual "issue" books, but lighthearted without being trite - and now I'm not sure if I've moved on or if this book is just a bad example. I'm sad I didn't love it more, I was really looking forward to placing it on my "rainy day comfort read" shelf and re-reading it at some point in the future.