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This Tiny Perfect World

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A contemporary “clean teen” coming-of-age story about a small-town girl who opens her eyes to life’s endless possibilities

When Penny wins a scholarship to a prestigious theater camp, she thinks it’s the start of a perfect summer. But when she arrives at camp, Penny is thrust into a world of competition and self-doubt. And as she meets new friends, including Chase, a talented young actor with big-city dreams, she begins to realize that her own dreams may be bigger than she ever imagined.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 27, 2018

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About the author

Lauren Gibaldi

8 books316 followers
Public librarian and author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, MATT'S STORY (a Night We Said Yes novella), AUTOFOCUS, and THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD, all with HarperTeen / HarperCollins. Fan of dinosaurs and cheesy jokes. And you.

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5 stars
55 (17%)
4 stars
102 (31%)
3 stars
105 (32%)
2 stars
50 (15%)
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9 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 63 reviews
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews705 followers
January 4, 2018
Oh man, it seriously breaks my heart to rate this so low. I have enjoyed Lauren’s other books and was quite excited for this one. Instead I was so so so bored.

Penny is just okay. Her inner monologue sounds flat and I never actually connected to her or any other characters. Everyone seemed so one dimensional and clichéd.

Plot wise, it was meh. It didn’t feel like anything happened. There wasn’t a spark, there wasn’t a real conflict, and nothing captivated me. I was interested enough to want to know how it turned out, but could have easily DNF’d.

Overall, I liked the idea of Penny trying to figure out what she wanted, but the execution didn’t work for me.

**Huge thanks to Harper Teen for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for chloe ♡.
394 reviews265 followers
March 8, 2018

And in that moment, I remember something important about glass: it's delicate and clear, but if you hold it up to the light, there are a million beams of light that shine through. There's so much more to me. I'm not a perfect unicorn or a broken monkey. I'm still being designed, constructed. I'm exactly what Teresa said I was - a work in progress.

Did I like the book?

Honestly, I don't know.

I mean, when I first requested to join this blog tour, I had no idea what this book was about. If you're a friend of mine, you probably know I'm a sucker for pretty covers. I was attracted by the pretty colors and the picture of the girl with closed eyes. (I know - I sound shallow :P)

The beginning was slow-ish. We meet Penny's best friend and boyfriend. Penny mentions how the three of them used to spend every summer together, but this year they are going to be apart. I was like, okay. The stuff she talks about was a little bit boring, and to be honest, I couldn't relate, because every summer, I meet up with my friends a few times for lunch, or shopping, or homework, but I've never spent my whole summer with the same person every year.

So, after that, Penny goes to theatre camp (I LOVE THEATRE). Things start to get interesting here. Penny meets a girl, Sam, and a boy, Chase. She becomes friends with Sam (whom I love, by the way. She's such a nice person and so talented!!!). I didn't like Chase at first, because he is so full of himself and brags about performing in shows in Atlanta, but it's clear he has good intentions and wants to help Penny improve her acting skills.

What I didn't like about this book was that it reminded me of the "books" I wrote when I was in middle school. Somehow, Sam and Chase end up getting their desired roles for the play, while Penny and Sam's crush (whoops I forgot his name) play as understudy to the roles they want. Then, the director arranges the actors into groups of 2 selected performers and 2 understudies, and the four of them get sorted into a group. What a coincidence. It's really unrealistic, don't you think?

+ It's obvious that Penny's not deeply in love with her boyfriend, Logan (who's her best friend since childhood), and she starts having feelings for Chase. I was hoping that Penny will tell Logan about her real feelings and chase after Chase (see what I did there? *wink*). But she doesn't! And I think that's kind of unfair to both Logan and Chase.

The characters visit downtown Orlando, and it reminded me of the trip I took to the USA last summer. I went to Orlando, but I didn't get to explore downtown Orlando because I spent most of my trip in Disney World and Universal Studios. Reading about these places made me regret not visiting the downtown area.

I want to make millions of decisions and revisions. I want to be right and wrong. I want to live in this delicious moment of uncertainty and see what happens next.

Penny is clueless about what she's going to do in the future, and I could totally feel her struggle. She does not know if she should stay behind in the little town she grew up in, or go for something bigger. Her theatre friends are all moving on to Broadway and Hollywood, and she wants to do something similar, but she is reluctant to leave behind everything she is familiar with. For me, I have some idea of what kind of career I want to pursue (forensic pathology!) but it seems totally out of reach. Also did I mention I have no idea how universities work? Penny, I feel you.

Overall rating


I have mixed feelings about this book, and I don't know how many stars I should rate it? I might change the star rating later.
Profile Image for  ••Camila Roy••.
161 reviews49 followers
March 5, 2018

*I recieved a digital ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

This was a cute, fun read. I'm glad it went down a different road that I was originally expecting. I love when a book isn't predictable but for some reason, that's a hard thing to find these days. If you're a contemporary fan, like moi, you're going to like this!
Profile Image for Eric Smith.
Author 20 books853 followers
January 31, 2018
I need this book right now. I'll read anything Lauren Gibaldi writes.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,440 reviews233 followers
March 1, 2018
Rating: 3.5 stars

Penny was perfectly content with her life. She loved her hometown and spending time with her bestie and her boyfriend. Her future was predetermined, and she was ok with that. However, after Penny was accepted into a competitive acting camp, her little world began to grow, and she started to see that there were a lot of different opportunities out there, and that she may want to explore them.
I'm a girl from small-town Florida - we stay here.

This Tiny Perfect World was a very thoughtful and honest look at one girl's struggle and doubt about her future. I think many people will be able to relate to this story on some level, because so many young people (and older people too) reach a point in their lives, where they are faced with some exciting and scary choices, and will have to determine what they want from life.

Penny always thought she wanted to stay in her hometown, inherit her mother's diner, and marry her childhood sweetheart, but her summer in a new environment really opened her eyes. She began questioning what she wanted and what she thought was possible. Gibaldi did an incredible job conveying Penny's struggle to the reader. I felt her fear of losing the things she knew and loved, but also her excitement for the things she could have.

Gibaldi assembled a fine cast of characters to accompany Penny on her journey. I thought her theatre friends, Sam and Chase, were great windows into her new possibilities. I found them fun, likable, and felt that they pushed Penny in all the right ways. Her best friend, Faye, was always there for her, and I really appreciated the way she supported Penny. I have to say, Dad was a stand out, and he and Penny shared some really special moments on-page. His love for his daughter was crystal clear, and he did what any good parent would do. He tried to advise and guide his daughter, but allowed her to make her own choices.

There was a lot of fun built into this book. I had lived in Florida for several years, and visited central Florida often, so I was a fan of the setting. The trips to downtown Orlando, as well as our days at camp, created a nice backdrop for the story to unfold in. I even had fun while Faye and Logan were babysitting.

Although this book had an fairly wide open ending, I was ok with it. The ending seemed appropriate for this story. Penny was still figuring things out. She was 17, and her ending didn't happen yet, therefore, it made sense that the book left room for her to continue growing and searching for her happily ever after. Although the ending was not all tied up, we do get some idea of where Penny stood on certain aspects of her past and future life, and I really was pleased with the direction Gibaldi went with that.
Finished? No. Partway there, yes, but not finished. Never finished. When you're finished, you have nothing left to learn.

Overall: A very real and believable story of one small-town girl's struggle with the life she knows and what surprises await her outside of the home she knows and loves.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,847 reviews
March 2, 2018
This Tiny Perfect World is a Young Adult contemporary novel. The book takes place in Florida. The narrator is 17 year old Penny (1st person POV).

Penny has gotten a scholarship to a prestigious theater camp. So by day she takes the bus to the theater camp where she has new friends. And at night she has her old friends Logan and Faye.

She lives in a small town, Christmas Florida. The camp is a bus ride away in Winter Park, the fanciest neighborhood in central Florida.

There is definitely a big divide between her poor town and the rich kids that attend the camp. It was interesting to get to see both parts of Penny's life. Although I much preferred everything to do with the theater camp. The camp was doing one play (The Glass Menagerie) and one musical (Spring Awakening). I love theater so I absolutely loved that this was such a prominent part of the story. I also really liked her two friends from camp: Sam (girl) and Chase.

The story is basically about a girl who is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She has a boyfriend when the book starts (which I didn't love because I prefer to read about a single girl who then has the opportunity to meet her guy during the book).

However, other than that small issue I really liked almost everything about this book. It totally kept my interest. And there were definitely a few things that I did not see coming.

Overall, I thought that it was a cute YA story. And if you love theater then this book will keep you entertained. Also, the ending of a book is everything to me. And somehow the author managed to get to all of the things that I wanted her to address.

Thanks to edelweiss and HarperTeen for allowing me to read this book.
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,173 reviews1,308 followers
March 5, 2018
I knew that I would love this book the second I read the synopsis. I will read pretty much any book about acting and any book that is set at camp. This Tiny Perfect World has both. I really enjoyed the message of this story, and the main character is believable. If you enjoyed Lauren Gibaldi’s other books, her latest instalment will not let you down.

Full review on The Candid Cover
Profile Image for Joséphine (Word Revel).
726 reviews279 followers
March 6, 2018
March 6, 2018

My full book review is up on Word Revel.


March 4, 2018

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Initial thoughts: If drama and theatre are involved, you can be sure I want to read the book. Thats nearly a guarantee that I'll enjoy it and in the case of This Tiny Perfect World, I sure did. Call it nostalgia for my own pursuit of theatre but I enjoyed following Penny through her summer drama programme. One thing that This Tiny Perfect World did well was that there were quite a number of chapters dedicated to her curriculum time and rehearsals.

While this book doesn't offer a grand plot with larger than life developments, it does tackle the idea of, "What if there's more to life than this?" The progression through Penny's summer was believable, and in many ways relatable.

I just wish that there had been more depth to the characters. Since This Tiny Perfect World is a slow and fairly quiet book, I wanted more from it through the characters. The emotions, I feel, didn't come across so intensely, so I didn't care as much for them as I would've liked.


Note: I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
619 reviews627 followers
August 27, 2018
Video Review

It took me a long time to warm up to this novel but once I was into it, I was into it a full 100%.
I don't think I've ever said this before but I'd really encourage you to read this whole review and not click off just because you read a word like "love triangle" because there's so much more to this story and I would hate for you to get discouraged from reading the book because of words like this.

A lot in this novel took me by surprise. I went into it not knowing much, except that it's a story about a girl who kind of outgrows her small hometown and realizes the future she imagined there might not be what she really wants. When I realized that a lot of this novel would take place at a theatre camp and there'd be wonderful (musical) theatre references, I was even more excited about this.

The theatre camp was definitely an aspect of the story that I really enjoyed and I loved the friendship portrayed through it and how it can bring people together.
In the beginning I was annoyed a lot by the characters. I thought the main character was a bit bland but she absolutely grew on me and I thought her character development was really good. I also thought the female friendships she had, both with her best friend, Faye, and her new friend from camp, Sam, were portrayed in a great way.
My biggest issue was probably Chase, a guy that Penny befriends at camp. Especially in the beginning he was insufferable and a lot of his behaviour was downright problematic. I can't believe he insisted on calling Penny "Penelope" throughout the WHOLE NOVEL, with her constantly correcting him because that's not how she likes to be called. Call me petty but this is a certain male entitlement that I am ABSOLUTELY sick of seeing. I also think it's annoying that he's constantly asking Penny if she "still has that boyfriend". Come on Chase, be a bit more classy. A lot of his behaviour irritated me immensely and I think he could've been written differently and that would've benefited the story a lot more!

That said, even though I wasn't a big fan of Chase's behavior, the "love" triangle was actually one of my favourite aspects of the novel. Now I'm putting "love" in quotation marks because it's not really an accurate term but as far as I know we haven't come up with a term like "crush" triangle or "maybe potentially interested in" triangle, so I have to stick to it.
The reason I liked the love triangle was because it represented so much more than a love triangle. At the surface level it was about two boys, yes, but if you really look at it, it just portrays the conflict the main character is going through in her life. This is exactly the kind of love triangle I'm looking for, one that just offers a bit more. A lot of people will find it annoying nonetheless but I appreciated it.
While I'm at that topic I wanna mention the emotional cheating that is involved. I get this is a no-go for a lot of people and that's totally fine. But I thought that a lot of it redeemed itself at the end of the story. I wish the main character had been honest to her boyfriend a bit earlier on but after finishing this book, I can see that a lot of this made sense.
Really, looking back at it, in a lot of ways it almost feels like Chase was used as a plot device and I'm not mad about it.

I also liked that this book showed that wanting to kiss someone does not necessarily have to mean you love this person and wanna be with them. This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves with YA books and even with the way we review them a lot of the times, so I was happy that it was explicitly mentioned in the story.

I truly loved reading about both Penny's small hometown life and the theatre camp and with that also the differences in wealth in her friendship groups. Throughout the novel she learns that she might want to branch out but at the same time appreciates her hometown life more and learns not to be ashamed about in front of other people. She starts to see it from a different perspective BECAUSE she's branching out and I thought that was wonderful.
And I loved the family dynamic between Penny and her dad and how we saw their relationship grow and develop throughout this novel.

There was also a really great conversation about bisexuality in this novel that I deeply appreciated and might have been one of my favourites I have ever read about in YA.

I do think the ending was a bit rushed and I definitely could have lived with a couple more pages but in the end the novel did everything it intended to do.
It's a really great coming-of-age novel that had a big emotional impact on me.

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I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sandy.
960 reviews14 followers
February 26, 2018
This Tiny Perfect World is the third book by Lauren Gibaldi that I've read. While I can't say that Lauren Gibaldi is a favorite author of mine having read these three books, I can say that she's fairly consistent. The biggest correlation between the three books that I've read (The Night We Said Yes and Autofocus) is "coming of age". For some reason coming of age stories aren't usually my favorite. So I don't fault Lauren Gibaldi's writing so much as the plot for these types of stories. The purpose of these types of books is to show how the character grows from the place where they begin the story over a series of conflicts that allow them to learn a lesson resulting in "growing up."

The description of This Tiny Perfect World led me to a few false conclusions about Penny. Without spoiling things for you, I tend to assume that when a character is in a romantic relationship at the beginning of a book then the relationship is doomed. Penny begins the book with a boyfriend yet he's not who the description mentions so I just assumed that Logan was destined to be dropped like a bomb. Things don't go how I expected, but they aren't as far off from what I imagined as they could have been. Logan, himself, was a bit of a struggle for me as a character because he was so whiny and insecure. I struggle with this type of person in real life and I find them doubly annoying in books as well.

As a typical coming of age story, Penny does have quite some growing to do. One of my favorite aspects is how she developed some new friendships without dropping and moving on from her existing friends. Just because she's expanding her view of the world and her potential future doesn't mean that she has to leave her old world and friends completely behind. Although, Penny does have a lot of growing and learning about herself left to do.

My biggest frustration over This Tiny Perfect World centers around Penny's father and his storyline. It was predictable to me, yet I found myself struggling for multiple reasons. My faith for one, but beyond that....Penny finds out a huge secret about her father. And from someone who has had a parent keep a pretty big secret, this isn't so easily blown off as Penny allows it to be. When anyone keeps a giant secret from you, it causes conflict and trust issues that aren't so easily overcome. And you can't just say "I'm the same person you thought I was...well except this part of me" and have that fly. I mean have you guys ever watched a single episode of Catfish? Nine times out of ten the person being deceived can't get over the huge lie that they've been told just because the other person tells them that their feelings toward them were real. Yet, I feel like more than anything, Lauren Gibaldi was taking the politically correct stance on this issue. Because how dare Penny actually take issue with the fact that her father has kept this part of himself secret from her. How dare she possibly be upset by this revelation. No one is allowed to be in control of their own feelings because the media and modern culture has determined that only one response to a situation like this is acceptable. So my issue is that I felt Penny was forced to feel one way because of the political correctness of our time, yet I felt that her response wasn't authentic from the standpoint of someone who's experienced a huge relationship shaking revelation from a parent before.

All of this being said, This Tiny Perfect World was not my favorite book. I read it at a decent speed, but "coming of age" stories just aren't my preference. I don't find that I enjoy reading books that are just about the character learning a lesson or growing only just for the sake of learning a lesson. While I did find Penny's father's secret to be predictable, I didn't feel her response to his revelation to be authentic. I was torn on how things went down with Logan. While things didn't go as I expected, I can't say that I loved what did happen. In the end, This Tiny Perfect World gets 2.5 Stars. Have you read This Tiny Perfect World? What did you think? Let me know!
Profile Image for Ashley Williams.
Author 1 book281 followers
January 9, 2018
A light-hearted, clean YA read about a small-town girl with big dreams. It was a quick read, I finished this book in one sitting. It was sweet and hopeful.
7 reviews
October 11, 2018
It was outstanding! The way Lauren Gibaldi's words brought penny to life in my mind . Its like the words leaped off the pages and I was watching what took place . I Experienced it. The story was different and relate-able all at once . Penny the girl with her whole life planned out , wanted more . To take risk , have fun , experience new things.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews288 followers
December 21, 2017
This was a super cute, light and fluffy YA romance. It wasn't super risky but had a likeable heroine who didn't do what I was fearing she would do, and an enjoyable setup. I've been reading a lot of dark and depressing books lately so it was really great to read something light! Great book to read on your vacation!
Profile Image for Allana.
171 reviews69 followers
March 29, 2018
I appreciate this book for what it is. I love finding contemporary books that make you think about where you are in life, but at the same time there isn’t a drastic amount of drama going on. This book was a simple read that I found enjoyable while in my reading slump, I like how realistic the story was but also how it still didn’t go the way I was expecting. I like the the main character starts to question everything once she realizes how small she’s made her world become, I also really like how she handles her dad’s secret. I also appreciate that within this small town book the author managed to add a little diversity within it. Overall I recommend this read if you’re in between books or just looking for something to read that’s simple and easy.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,509 reviews84 followers
December 1, 2017
This is Gibaldi's best novel yet. Penny goes to theater camp for the sake of the experience, while convinced she is content to live the rest of her life in her small town with her loved ones, and to take over the family business. The more time she spends at theater camp, the more she rethinks her plans for the future, and wants to give herself the chance to go out into the world. But how does she break this to her boyfriend, or her father? A beautiful book about embracing uncertainty and change.
Profile Image for Charleen.
169 reviews16 followers
July 30, 2019
A big thank you to YA Books Central for putting up an early ARC giveaway and allowing me to win a copy!

It's always great to read books that have motivation and motive for pursuance throughout the story. The backstory is usually set up to be dreary, to have a negative influence or present some kind of control over the character over the course of the novel. The character is shown to overcome this conflict, internal or otherwise, as they are making their way. This is exactly what I saw when reading This Tiny Perfect World. While the plot is predictable, there are some good messages that the plot contained, as well as Penelope's, the main protagonist, inner voice. A lot of her struggles are personal and relate to some of the relationships she has or makes during her summer that the story covers. Penelope was always positive, even when doubtful, and showed that she had a lot to learn and grow throughout her small journey of recreation of character. She discovers what she wants, even when she already knows what her future may hold. Overall her story conveyed that you never really stop learning; there is always room to grow and to develop your own sense of character, or recreating yourself. What exactly do you want from life? This is one of the great questions I think this book asks not only from the character, but from the reader as well.

On an aside note, I'm really glad Penelope was given conflicts in regards to her relationship with her boyfriend, Logan. She had several opportunities to mess that up for herself, but chose not to. It really shows that she still maintains great control and is clear about what she wants in that regard.

Don't stop trying for yourself! Everyday is a new day, so you always have a chance to be someone new. This book has this message on almost every page.
Profile Image for kglibrarian  (Karin Greenberg).
605 reviews24 followers
September 25, 2017
Though Gibaldi does not take risks with breaking out of the young adult formula, her straightforward, honest writing makes this story an engaging and enjoyable one. The novel highlights that it is possible for teens to use their individual interests to carve out a niche within the intimidating world of high school cliques.
Profile Image for Teenreadsdotcom.
696 reviews37 followers
May 25, 2018
When Penny receives a scholarship to a prestigious performing arts camp near her home, it completely changes her plans for the future in THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD, a new novel from Lauren Gibaldi.

Gone are Penny's plans to stay close to home, attend community college with her best friend, Faye, and her boyfriend, Logan, and take over the restaurant that her dad runs. Attending the theater camp allows her to meet new people who are certainly different from her friends back home. The camp causes Penny to wonder if maybe life in her small Florida town isn’t what she wants.

"Gibaldi writes very touching and heartfelt books, and really has a gift for making readers feel for the characters."

Even though Penny commuted to and from the performing arts camp, I do wish there had been a bit more build-up to the first time she attended. It seemed a bit abrupt to me, and I would’ve liked to see more of her life at home in order for it to contrast even more with her life at camp. I did think that there was a very noticeable difference between Penny at camp and Penny at home. This definitely fits with the theme of the camp being a different opportunity for Penny and really helped to set it apart. I thought that Penny’s indecisiveness about the future was incredibly realistic and relatable. Since I’m from a very small community where many teens face similar dilemmas as Penny, I certainly know about this and Gibaldi handled them perfectly, in my opinion. I thought the supporting characters were very strong and distinct from one another. They definitely added to the plot and I enjoyed them very much.

It was a nice touch from Gibaldi that the production at the camp related to Penny’s life. Using “The Glass Menagerie” as one of the camp’s shows tied into the plot very well and added depth to it. Having it be such a key part of the plot might also inspire readers to go out and read the play on their own, and I know I will definitely be checking the library for a copy.

The ending of the book was fairly open-ended. I normally enjoy books with endings that wrap up the story, but I thought Gibaldi’s more abstract choice definitely suited the plot and Penny’s character well. It made sense with her character’s personality and growth to end the book without a definite conclusion.

I would definitely recommend this book to teens who enjoy books by Katie Cotugno, Kasie West and Morgan Matson. It definitely had a very similar feel, but was also distinct from other authors. Gibaldi writes very touching and heartfelt books, and really has a gift for making readers feel for the characters.

Reviewed by Breck G., Teen Board Member
September 9, 2020
~ !! s p o i l e r s !! ~

I was initially drawn to this book because of the pretty cover. I mean, look at it! It’s gorgeous! Unfortunately, this was just an average book for me; I even ended up skimming the first few chapters because they were too boring for me.

Quickly, I want to add I did enjoy reading it and this is in no way bashing the writer. She finished a novel, something I have yet to do.

Plot and characters are vital for a good story, and yet that’s what makes this story so slow moving. The mc (Penny) is aggravatingly flat and barely dynamic. I hate her for being so deceitful to Logan by hanging around Chase so much. Now, here’s where you might say, “Well, Penny does nothing wrong because Chase and her are just friends and never does anything romantic.” But I say, “Penny constantly considers being with Chase and feels guilty hanging out with him. She knows she has some feelings for him and should either sort them out right away, or at least tell her boyfriend—and she does neither. Instead she continues to hang out with a boy who is clearly playing her in a way and holds it back from her partner.” But to each their own.

And Logan? I want to feel bad for him, I do, but it’s hard to do that when I barley know the guy. He’s barely even in the novel due to his job, one of the reasons Penny feels “rejected” and resorts to Chase. As for Chase, he’s...what is he? I have no idea what Penny saw in him, because he’s so full of himself. And the thing is, Penny knows it and still goes to clubs and parties with him. I never understood, and I never will.

The plot consists of Penny going back and forth with her new and old friends, weighing her options whether to stay in small town Florida and play it safe, or go out and explore the world or possibilities. It is relatable, yet tedious. I guess the biggest plot twist, if you can call it that, is when Penny finds out her dad is gay...and she does not handle it well. It upsets me how she shouts at her dad for knowing he liked men when he was with her mom. Like, doesn’t she know her dad can be bisexual??? Of course she makes amends later by saying it’s just a lot to process, she knows bisexuality exists ‘cause she’s not stupid (really? Ya sure, Penny?), and she still loves her father.

Soooo... I’m not fond of the characters, conflict, plot, and so on but I don’t hate it either. I think it’s an okay read, and if you’re going to read it, keep an open mind.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cassie.
328 reviews60 followers
March 1, 2018
Once again, Lauren Gibaldi has written another book with so much emotional power behind her characters. In This Tiny Perfect World, we are streamed through the world and emotions of the main character, Penny. It’s currently Penny’s summer break, and while her friends are pursuing jobs, she is participating in a summer program for actors. Penny is from a small town, where no one really leaves. But in this story, Penny begins to see that her passion for acting may not be just a hobby and the small-town-world she has perfected with great friends, a loving dad, and a caring boyfriend, might not be enough for Penny to stay after she graduates high school.

One of my favorite things about Gibaldi’s writing is that she makes her characters so real and honest. In This Tiny Perfect World, Penny’s inner dialogue is so gritty and vulnerable. I enjoyed watching Penny challenge herself to push forward; she dares herself to take on acting roles that are so different to her normal lifestyle. But it’s through theater camp and her play-acting friends, Penny discovers there are dreams and goals beyond her small town walls. Penny thought she already had her life planned out after high school, but she acknowledges that not everything is black and white. Situations change. People change. And people, like herself, are on a continuous journey of figuring who they are and what they want in life.

Overall, This Tiny Perfect World is different that Gibaldi’s other two books, because it is not as swoony and romantic-based. Instead, the focus in this book is on Penny’s individual character development. I like that Penny’s life begins on such a narrow and focused path, but by the end of the book, Penny realizes her world is wide open to more possibilities. This story is very straight-forward, thought-provoking, and will have you engaged in internal dialogue of a teenager who has a loving soul and a fierce spirit to mature and discover the world around her.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,653 followers
July 20, 2018
This Tiny Perfect World is a quiet and contemplative contemporary novel.

Penny has her whole life planned out: attend the local community college, take over the family cafe, marry her childhood friend turned boyfriend Logan, and eventually have kids. She loves her town of Christmas, Florida, and she doesn't want anything more than that. She's happy in her tiny perfect world. Until she goes to a theater camp and starts to wonder if maybe she is missing out on something more.

There's a love triangle of sorts in this book, and I kept expecting it to spill over into drama, but that's not the kind of book this is. It's not really even a romance. It's a story about figuring out what you want from life and whether it's worth it to try for dreams that might not be practical or likely out of reach.

This is one of those books that I'm really glad exists, because it has a dose of reality and ends in a way that fiction usually doesn't. At the same time, though, it's rather mild and low impact, because it doesn't hit the strong beats that most novels do. My favorite part was Penny's arc with her father, who , but I admit that, though she isn't, I'm bored with her boyfriend and wanted .

If you liked Gibaldi's prior novel, Autofocus, I think you'll like this one. They have a similar mood to them. I'd also recommend it to anyone looking for YA that's realistic and trope-resistant as an antidote to melodrama. For me, though, I miss the banter and shippiness of Gibaldi's debut. I'll probably keep trying her books, but I want a little bit more excitement out of them. This Tiny Perfect World is well written and thoughtful, but it wanted a bit more oomph to make it memorable.
Profile Image for Amy Layton.
1,641 reviews52 followers
March 4, 2018
This is a book I didn't know I needed.  Normally, the books I didn't know I needed tend to fall under a different genre, so this one came at me as a surprise.  Basically, my story is a lot different than Penny's.  I'm in grad school, I work 40 hours a week, and I have an inkling of what I want to do with my life (be a librarian).  Penny is a little different.  She's still in high school, she has a good support system, but she's always just sort of imagined that of course she'll inherit her family's diner.  And because she's so stuck in that mindset, she's never really bothered to dream for something more.  And I think that's where I'm at.

Now, I know this is supposed to be a review and not a reflection about my life, but I think that it's important to note that despite Penny's and my differences, this book's theme can attract a large audience of people--especially in today's day and age.  And that makes this book's theme hugely important in itself.  It's never too late to want more, and it's never too late to reinvent yourself.  

What I also hugely love is that this book is set in a small town which (is relatable) is hugely realistic for many people everywhere.  And for those of us who live in small towns, I think I speak for us all when I say that it's so, so easy to get stuck there.  I know people from my hometown who never left.  Or who left for a bit and came back.  And I'm afraid of that happening to me.  And Penny's a bit afraid of that happening to her, too.  

Ultimately, I think this introspective book deserves a place on everyone's TBR list, and is perfect for the senior in high school.

Review cross-listed here!
Profile Image for Jessie.
1,969 reviews26 followers
March 6, 2018
This is a very quiet book. It's about Penny (and some other chars, like her dad) discovering a lot of possibility and starting to explore it without really diving in yet. It's about new relationships and old relationships and holding those in tension.

I loved that there was very little drama in the friendship between Penny and Faye. A lot of times longstanding friendships in books like these feel like they're set up to be tested, and I was glad Penny had something that was solid here. (Dealing with doubts about her future and her dad and Logan/Chase is enough relationship stuff to handle at once.)

Sam is also a delight, and she and Penny better keep talking. I'm more meh on Chase.

I appreciated how important Penny and her dad were to each other, how they supported each other and wanted to do things together and talk more.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the scenes involving Penny finding out her dad was dating a man, but I'm glad "bisexual" was used on-page.

I wish we had seen more of camp after the first couple of weeks. We stop getting any descriptions of class (honestly after the first couple of days, and we never get a dance class scene), and it's not like we see that much of the rehearsals or of Penny's prop work. It's not hard to believe when she gets the special robe, but it has less impact because we haven't seen why. We've seen her think and grow but not necessarily in the ways that matter for that. (They're connected! But they aren't the same.)

At least four instances of "just friends"/"just a friend," and a lot of speculation about people flirting based on them being a guy and a girl hanging out. One use of a racial slur and some ableist language.
Profile Image for Anelise.
62 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2018
Rating: 3.5/5

This Tiny Perfect World is a light, fluffy novel about a girl who goes to a summer theatre camp and learns that her future isn't what she thought it would be.

It took me a couple chapters to really get into the novel, but once got into it, I really enjoyed it. I loved the family dynamics between Penny and her father. We got to see how their relationship evolved as the time went by and we learned more about each character.

The thing I loved the most about this book is it's about self discovery. Penny feels as if her future is already decided for her: go to community college after graduation high school, take over her father's cafe, and probably get married to Logan. As she goes to the theatre camp and becomes friends with some of the other teenagers, she starts to question her future. That's perfectly normal as most teenagers don't know what they're going to do when they grow up or their future ends up being something totally different than what they imagined. I just really liked that this story showed that. Showed the indecision and how she comes to terms with it.

I also liked how Logan and Chase represent different aspects/parts of her life. Logan represents the part that feels obligated to stay and take over the cafe, and Chase represents her love for acting and the unknown future in front of her.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and loved how theatre is a part of it as one of my friends loves theatre. I also really liked the conclusion and how everything played out.

Note: I received a free copy of this story in exchange for an honest review which in no way affects my opinion.
54 reviews1 follower
October 4, 2020

This book is what it is... it's a fun little summer camp book that doesn't take to long to read and has some young characters making decisions and growing up. It's not offensive it's just not going to change the world.

I liked this book at the start. I liked Penny and Logan and Faye, they were close friends and you can see how much they both meant to Penny.

I just didn't like the way she changed after just a few days at summer camp. I get feeling stuck, and I get wanting bigger things, but Penny seemed to want things just because she felt like she ought to, not because she wanted to. I like how supportive Faye was as a friend, and I loved the relationship between Penny and her. That being said, I felt that Logan just got walked all over. He loves Penny, they are best friends and their families are expecting them to get married and make babies and they make such a cute couple but Penny just drops him for no really explained reason... then three pages later she's seeing him again and saying that she wants to be with him.

Chase was there for no other reason than a plot point to make Penny think about what she wants. He just has no substance for me aside from the whole big city dreams side of things.

Look, this book was ok, I finished it... but it's just teenagers making bad decisions for no reason. For that reason, I can't really buy into it.
Profile Image for Charmaine.
716 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2018
This story was straightforward, inoffensive, and sweet. It's a classic coming-of-age story for a girl who goes to a new place and realizes how much more life has to offer.

My problem with the story was how constant and apparent everyone's desires were. Eventually, everyone kind of sounded like a broken record with their mantras. We get it Penny, you want something MORE. And Logan gets a huge disservice for always seeming so jealous, insecure, and small-minded. We view Chase with rose-tinted goggles, and I really don't support that (he plays around! Penny is so clearly just one of his many fiddles!).

I also didn't feel like "dreaming big" is that realistic for Penny's future. Show business is TOUGH. People who starve for fame go after it at such a young age. Where does that leave her? I have trouble understanding the comfort in such a simple life (that her friends lead in their tiny perfect world), but the big city dreams just seem so far out of reach.

I wanted to see Penny move away, get swept away by Chase, or have some other big shake-up. I think this book would've been far more effective if it were set in Penny's first year of university, not some summer camp retreat.
1 review
April 7, 2020
Penny has her life all planned out. She has a boyfriend, an amazing best friend, and she even planned to take over the family restaurant. Suddenly, Penny wins a scholarship to a theater camp. Theater camp is full of excitement! She finds new friends, meets other people, here their passions, and then realizes that she wants to go bigger than what she had planned out! This effect every relationship she had before. What will she do now?
The theme that I had gotten from the book was to always think bigger. This is because in the beginning she seem to be okay. I feel that camp had made her rethink because everyone she had met had wanted to go big, meaning that they wanted to go outside of the city/state. At that point Penny began to question herself whether she really want to go through with her plan. Should she? Their was only one way to find that out, and that was to think big.
Over all this book hadn’t really grab my attention. This book had felt ordinary and dry. It could use more excitement! I will admit that the front cover drew me in a little. After reading this I felt that I couldn’t really relate to the character as much. I recommend this to s read who likes theater or clichés!
October 12, 2019
The novel This Tiny Perfect World takes you on a crazy adventure of a dynamic character. The main character, Penny, has always had her future planned out. She had her perfect life with her dad, boyfriend, Logan, and best friend, Faye. Then, she gets accepted to a very prestigious theatre camp, where she meets new friends, Chase and Sam, and starts to question what she had planned out to try something new. In this novel, the author focuses a lot on symbolism. In the text, it says, “You know a unicorn without a horn is just a horse, even broken it can be something (Gibaldi 183).” The unicorn and horse represent change. It shows how even though one thing changes, it doesn’t have to affect everything else. Penny could change her future plans to what she really wants to, and this doesn’t have to change everything else in her life. Although many things may change, a lot of the things you love will still stay the same. Overall, I really liked this book. I thought the ending was predictable, which made the book a little less exciting. Despite that, this book was a fun, quick, and easy to read, and I would definitely recommend this book to a friend.
Profile Image for Molly.
456 reviews128 followers
June 28, 2018
I love Lauren's books, THE NIGHT WE SAID YES is one of my favorite books ever. So I was excited for this but really sad that I wasn't clicking with it at the start. I read this book while I was at work so there were weeks where I couldn't get back to it and I was... okay. I didn't feel compelled to pick it back up when I got home or when I had free time (and was reading other books).

But around 60% in I really started to connect. I, even now as an adult, struggle with coming from a small town. I was one of the few that left. I wish I'd had this book when I was younger. I was reading the conversations between Penny & Logan and could understand both sides so well and I know that I'm more on Penny's side because I wanted to leave my small town and I did and so many people didn't get why it wasn't good enough for me there. People STILL don't get why it's not good enough for me now.

The second half of this book was the strongest. I was going to rate it a 3, but I bumped it up to a 4 because I really liked the direction the book took in the second half.
Profile Image for Nicole.
678 reviews29 followers
November 14, 2019
I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Gibaldi at a writing retreat (Wordsmith Workshops = the best). After hearing her talk about her career and writing process, I knew I had to read some of her books. Gibaldi's latest book (her third) features all of my favorite things in YA contemporary.

I pretty much adored this one from the start. Great dialogue and a wonderful sense of place really anchor this book with relatable characters. So many books in YA have become darker, more dramatic, with intense, heavy plots. This was such a breath of fresh air with sweet romance and a journey of self-discovery for a teen who learns just how much possibility there is in the world if she only has the courage to try for it.

I'd recommend this one for fans of coming-of-age stories, small-town girls, and romance.
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