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Counting to Perfect

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  376 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Julia used to be the perfect big sister: she played great games and took good care of Cassie. Now life at home revolves around Julia and her daughter, Addie. No one pays much attention to Cassie: not to her competitive swim meets, and not to what's gone wrong with her friends.

When Julia confides in Cassie that she'll be leaving with Addie--without telling their parents--C
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
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Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Middle-grade readers and older
What stood out to me:
The “I’m counting to 30 very slowly” tradition the two sisters had going made me tear up a few times!
This book made me want an older sister very much; Julia’s defense of Cassie in Chapter 9 was just wonderful!
Mostly we called her Addie. Never "the baby". Julia was very strict about that. The other part of her name, the Cassandra part, that's after me. But nobody calls me that either. \

I think my main feeling after finishing this book was confused. Not because it was bad, it was just... weird. The writing style didn't seem to fit with the story the author was telling? But I've heard amazing things about some of her other books so I'll probably still pick them up in the future.

What I liked:
- The famil
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I am a bit conflicted about this one. Had I read it as a child, I've no doubt I would have enjoyed it quite a bit. And, although I still found the story and particularly the protagonist and narrator, Cassie, enjoyable, as an adult, there were certain things that simply did not work.
Counting to Perfect is told through the eyes of an eleven-year-old competitive swimmer. Her older sister, Julia, gave birth to a little girl about a year earlier. Since learning of their seventeen-year-old daughter's
Ms. Yingling
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC from Netgalley

Cassie wishes that life were the way it used to be, before her older sister Julia had a baby her senior year in high school. Now, instead of going away to college, she will be living at home with Addie. Cassie's friends aren't allowed to visit her home now, and her parents don't come to her swim meets as much. When Julia mentions that she and Addie are going on a vacation, she asks Cassie to come along. Since she has swim team, Cassie doesn't want to go, but ends up tagging a
Valerie McEnroe
Jan 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: middle-grade, journey
I had a really hard time getting through this one. I couldn't relate to the characters because their thoughts and actions didn't ring true for me. Cassie is the only believable character. She feels like her life is being overshadowed by her big sister who had a baby her senior year of high school. One day her sister decides to leave with the baby, for no apparent reason, and Cassie jumps in the car with her. They wander from place to place, eating lumberjack breakfasts and swimming in pools.

Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A sweet story about how teen pregnancy affects not only the pregnant teen but all of her family. A different viewpoint on teen pregnancy from the perspective of a younger sibling. I love the journey the two sisters took together both literally and metaphorically.
Laura Gardner
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
#kidlitexchange #partner ; thanks to @randomhousekids for the free book!
COUNTING TO PERFECT is absolutely pitch-perfect and a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5 read for me. The book addresses teen pregnancy, friendship issues, competitive swimming, and family problems, but above all it is a beautiful testament to the deep love between sisters. ❤️ @suzannelafleurauthor is so good at letting the reader infer everyone’s feelings...the tension is palpable in Cassie and Julia’s house at the start of the book and in flash
lise hoyer
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2020, read2018
Pretty good! I would have liked maybe a longer ending?
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interest Level: 3-6

Has your life ever been changed because of someone else? Maybe a brother or a sister that seems to get all of the attention to make you feel invisible? This has become the life of Cassie. Cassie is in middle school, she has two best friends, and she is the star on her swim team. Her parents always show her attention and they never missed a swim meet, that is until her teenage, senior in high school sister becomes pregnant, then Cassie's world changes. The once happy home is no
Cassie's life suddenly is disrupted once her older sister, Julia, becomes pregnant and gives birth to Addie while still in high school. A promising swimmer, Cassie, 12, is angry at her sister and disappointed at what she regards as a mistake. Since she's always admired her perfect sister, Cassie is confused that she would make this decision that changes the lives of everyone in their family completely. She resents the sudden focus on Addie and everything surrounding the pregnancy and baby. Her p ...more
This is an unusual take on teen pregnancy, in that the narrator is the little eleven year old sister, Cassie. She is feeling estranged because everything is about her sister, Julia and the baby, Addie, and she is not getting the attention she used to get. And of course, this being a middle school story, she is also having friendship problems.

Julia decides that she is fed up with being told what to do, by her parents, and her boyfriend, so decides to run away from home, with the baby of course. A
Dec 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not a fan of road trip books or movies, so after a really engaging start I was bummed to see the story going in that direction. I would have loved to rather see the family and friendship dynamics in Cassie'ss life develop more, not her and her sister's. I actually think her and Julia are unrealistically close for two teenagers, one of whom being a teen mother.
It is also hard to believe that the girls' parents would just go along with their daughters and baby granddaughter just leaving witho
Heidi Burkhart
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very tender and honest book about a young girl who feels estranged from her older sister. Once her sister has a baby things aren't the same. Their journey together helps to get them back on track. ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, middle-grade
I absolutely devoured this book. I've read several teen books that deal with pregnancy, but this is the first I've come across geared towards middle grade. It was done very well and held a good balance of realistically portraying the ups and downs, while creating well-rounded characters. I don't believe for a second the parents would have reacted the way they did to the road trip, but otherwise this was totally captivating and engaging. ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was not what I expected, in a good and bad way.

The relationships in this book were stellar. I felt like all the characters were real, and I could see their reasoning behind things. I loved Cassie's and Julia's changing relationship, and how that affects Cassie's relationship with her parents. Sometimes I would just read the chapters with them together and grin at how right it felt. Sometimes it was painfully honest about what sometimes happens.
I wanted to shake the characters more tha
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This made me really happy. It wasn't perfect but it got the message across. ...more
I had the opportunity to read a NetGalley digital ARC of this middle grade fiction novel in exchange for a review. This is a realistic look at the issue of teenage pregnancy from the point of view of eighteen-year-old Julia’s younger sister, Cassie. From the moment Julia’s family found out she was pregnant, the whole household seemed to revolve around being supportive and helpful to the expectant young mother. Feeling left out and forgotten, Cassie has built up a strong resentment to her family, ...more
Kim Brosan
While reading this book, I couldn't help thinking of my 11-year-old daughter and her feelings of distance from her 15-year-old brother. Being a pre-teen is so challenging and can be so lonely. When you're used to getting attention and suddenly don't get it, it can break your heart. Julia used to be the best big sister ever, until she became a teen mom. Cassie spends her sixth-grade year worrying about how her family will cope with a baby, what will happen to Julia, whether she'll survive labor ( ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Twelve-year-old Cassie is an avid swimmer and proud little sister of her older sister Julia, a senior in high school, until something unexpected occurs. Instead of preparing for college next year, Julia finds herself with a new baby Addie. Being close all of their lives, this surprise gravely effects Cassie as well. Frustrated with the new life Julia finds herself in, she decides to leave home, and even invites her little sister Cassie along. With mixed feelings Cassie joins Julia and her new ba ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Kid Lit Exchange and the publisher for the free review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

If you’re looking for a book about sisterhood in the face of change, this book is for you!

Cassie and Julia used to be more than just sisters - they were best friends. But now, Julia has a baby, and their family’s dynamic has changed entirely. Their whole world focused on Julia’s daughter Addie. It’s almost as if Cassie doesn’t exist. Then, when Julia leaves in the middle of the night, Cas
Laura Petrie
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.--- Happy Book Birthday to this middle grade realistic fiction story! This would have been the type of book that I would have picked up as a young reader. It’s a story filled with family and friendship drama, road trip adventures, and a satisfying ending. The narrator is 6th grader Cassie, and her point of view gives the conflict in this story a fresh perspective. The plot revolves around a family tha ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LaFleur, 194 pages. Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2018. $17.

Content: Language: PG (1 swear); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.



Eleven-year-old Cassie feels overlooked at her house since her seventeen year old sister, Julia, has had her baby, Addie. Cassie loves Addie, but she wishes that her family had not changed so much, especially Julia because they use to be good friends. One night when Julia can’t take
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cassie's life has been upended by teen pregnancy. Not her own--her big sister's. Julia, now 18, lives at home, has managed to graduate high school (a herculean effort by everyone in the family), and her daughter, Addie, is beloved by all. But no one is happy. Julia feels squashed by parenting and being parented at every moment. Cassie feels invisible. So the two sisters take the baby and run away on an adventure to find themselves and come to terms with their own crumbling relationship. This run ...more
This wasn't my favorite book of all time, but it was still a sweet story about two sisters and their complicated relationship with their parents, their friends, and each other.

I think I would enjoy this book more as a younger reader because I would be less aware of how unrealistic some aspects of the story are (i.e. an 18-year-old booking hotel rooms; apparent perfect money management; the fact that no missing persons reports were filed...). As an adult reader, I was disappointed with Cassie's c
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Cassie feels invisible. Since her sister got pregnant at the age of 17 everything has been about Julia and Addie. Nothing is the same for anyone. But one day Julia asks to borrow all of Cassie's life savings. Cassie finds herself on a trip with her sister and niece, no real destination in sight. They've run away from home. Can a little time to themselves rebuild their relationship or will they just be grounded forever when they get home?

Counting to Perfect didn't hit it out of the park for me. T
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Twelve-year-old Cassie has become invisible within her family as her high school senior sister Julia becomes pregnant and has a baby before the end of the school year. Cassie's friends have pulled back from her because of the judgments of their mothers re Julia's pregnancy and fear that being in Cassie's house would be a bad influence on their daughters. Even Cassie's and Julia's parents direct all their attention, worry and control toward Julia as she tries to care for baby Addie on her own.

Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Heartwarming story about family and finding our place in it.
Cassie, the 11 year old narrator, is a competitive swimmer with some long time friends. She has an older sister Julia whom she looks up to and spends a lot of time with. All of that changed when Julia gave birth to Addie last year. Since then, Cassie has felt invisible. Her parents lives revolve around Julia, Addie and their needs. They are no longer spectators at Cassie's meets and they haven't even noticed that her friends have not co
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you to netgalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Overall it wasn't a bad book, and it had a decent representation of dealing with a teenage pregnancy, and a child kind of fading to the background. There were some unrealistic aspects. As a mother, I would personally never allow my teenage daughter, her kid, and my 12 year old to continue to run off together once I found out where they were. Especially the 12 year old. I know that the parents are tracking t
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Julia used to be the perfect big sister: she played great games and took good care of Cassie. Now life at home revolves around Julia and her daughter, Addie. No one pays much attention to Cassie: not to her competitive swim meets, and not to what's gone wrong with her friends.

When Julia confides in Cassie that she'll be leaving with Addie--without telling their parents--Cassie jumps in the car, too. As the days of lumberjack breakfasts and hotel pools start to add up, Cassie has to wonder: Coul
Tina Moricz
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Counting To Perfect is about all the steps we take to make things perfect and the reality that there is no such thing. There is no perfect summer, perfect relationship, or perfect family. It is the story of two sisters, Cassie who is about to enter 7th grade and Julia who just graduated from high school but has been thrust into motherhood at the age of 17. The story is told from Cassie's point of view and the struggles she faces as she comes to accept all the changes happening in their family an ...more
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I grew up outside Boston in Newton, and later Natick, MA. During the school year I went to Catholic school, did a lot of homework, and read a couple books a week. During the summer I read a couple books a day and spent hours swimming and playing outside at our local pool or beach. I was very much a planner, dreamer, and writer, creating plays and shows for my siblings and the neighborhood kids to ...more

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