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Past Perfect Life

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,276 ratings  ·  266 reviews
Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn't be? In a few short months, everything's going to change, big time.
But when
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  1,276 ratings  ·  266 reviews

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Ally Smith has a happy life in Wisconsin with her dad and her friends. Her only worry is her college applications, but that’s normal. But when Ally officially filed them, they send up a red flag due to her social security number. It seems that Ally Smith isn’t Ally Smith. Her real name is Amanda, and now her happy life is no more. Is her whole life a lie? And what’s going to happen now?

If you’re looking for a captivating and emotional read, look no further than PAST PERFECT LIFE! I won this book
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Been awhile since I finished a book in a day :) This wasn't a new idea but it was addicting and hard to put down :) Brought me to tears a few times as well.

I thought the ending was a little rushed. It would have been more touching if it had been a little longer *shrugs*

The ending though was well done.

Would recommend, a nice escape from reality and will pull on your heartstrings.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-2
An interesting kidnapping victim finds out their real identity over a decade later story. Ally is applying for colleges when something goes wrong with her social security number. This one had lots of really emotional moments where you couldn’t help but sympathize with a lot of the perspectives. So many angles one could be hurt from in this scenario. I think my favorite character was the stepfather! Lots of Wisconsin tidbits that Packers fans will enjoy!

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Ent
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that has absolutely no surprises.

Everything happens exactly as you expect it will. People behave the way you expect. It ends the way you expect.

Despite the tough subject matter, it's a feel good book. Our main character has such a community around her that even in her darkest hours, you're pretty sure that nothing ever will get to the point of dismally tragic.

I liked every one of the characters. One I thought I might not like ended up just fine.

You might tear up once o
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

I discovered Elizabeth Eulberg a couple years ago and she quickly became one of my favorite YA Contemporary authors. I really can’t believe that more people aren’t talking about her books. Past Perfect Life was another of her books that I finished in one day.

Ally lives in a small town with her father and her biggest problem is coming up with a decent topic for her college application/scholarship application essay questio
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mature Y.A. readers
What Stood Out to Me:
I adored Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie?; read and re-read them when they came out in the 80's. This book reminded me so much of those two. Reading Past Perfect Life as an adult gave some food for thought. The biological parents in both reads demand the instant return of their "found" child. This troubled me as a teen in The Face series; I thought of the grownups as pushy and mean to exact uprooting a teenager. Reading Past Perfect as an
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I went into this thinking it was a suspense novel but it is NOT. What it *is* is a hugely engrossing, emotionally high stakes YA contemporary. I loved what it was, but I do think it was marketed just a tick like it was suspense which does a disservice to suspense readers IMO. (Like... maybe by the time it was released it wasn't being marketed that way, but I swear when I requested the ARC from NetGalley I thought it was suspense?)

ANYWAY. God this was a ride. And not a "the plot twists will BLOW
Ms. Yingling
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Ally's life in a small Wisconsin town hasn't been perfect, but she's happy. Her father works in construction, and sometimes things are financially difficult, but she's applying for college scholarships and has a good chance of attending a state university, since she's always done well in school. Her best friend, Marian, is from the biggest family in town, so Ally has built in "cousins" and even a grandma. As her 18th birthday approaches, she may even have a boyfriend in
Canadian Reader
(2.5) Ally Smith and her dad moved to Valley Falls, Wisconsin eight years ago, where they were welcomed with open arms by the large Gleason clan, who basically run the place. The mayor, sheriff, and elementary school principal are Gleasons, and many of the important businesses in town are owned by family members. Ally’s best friend, Marian, is a member of this large extended family and so is Neil, the boy she has a crush on.

Now, in her senior year of high school, Ally is preparing university an
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I have read and enjoyed Elizabeth’s previous books and I loved the sound of this one.

I liked Ally well enough. She’s had a huge things revealed to her and she’s handling it the best she can. I loved her friends and how supportive they were. The Florida family meant well and I did like how they strived to learn who Ally was. Her mom was sort of a struggle to read, but I could understand how she felt.

Plot wise, I was expecting a little more of a mystery type thing. Everything is revealed pretty
Liza Wiemer
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This may very well be my favorite Elizabeth Eulberg novel, and that says a lot! Allison Smith lives with her widowed dad and their relationship is sweet, caring, and loving. It's what most people would hope for between daughters and their fathers. But not everything is as it appears.

Loved the Wisconsin setting and all the Green Bay Packer references. The fascinating family dynamics will keep you turning the pages. Elizabeth captures small-town Wisconsin beautifully, and readers will fall in lov
Samantha (WLABB)
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, arcs, contemporary
A secret from Ally's past had caught up with her, which drastically altered her life, and threatened to derail her future.

I am going to apologize up front for being vague, but it is too easy to give away the plot here, and I liked when my suspicions were confirmed. It was a good gasp worthy moment for me, and I want you to have that too. Therefore, I will share as much as I think I can without spoiling anything.
"Two truths and a lie?"
"I'm angry. I'm scared. My life."

• My emotions! I will admit,
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This is the first book I've read by Eulberg and I know that I'll be reading her again in the future! The story was just so heartfelt. Ally has a normal life up until she starts applying for college. That's when she finds out that her father kidnapped her as a child and she's thrust into this new world. Her name isn't her real name. She has a family and that family wants to get to know her. But, her whole life is torn apart.

I found the whole story extremely heartbreaking. Not just for the MC, but
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

What do you do when you learn your whole life is a lie? When even your name isn’t your name and your mother didn’t die when you were three and your dad has been lying to you your whole life?

Ally discovers her real name is Amanda and that her mom didn’t really die when she was three. In fact, her mom Paula has been looking for Amanda for nearly fifteen years since the toddler’s father kidnapped her. Now jailed, her father admits to admits to his crimes, leaving Ally hurt and confused.

Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
What would you do when you discover you’re not who you thought you were? A homage to home, friendship and family, Past Perfect Life delves into the questions of what family really means and what it takes to discover where you truly belong. With a strong female lead character who walks that balance between determined and flexible, cautious but brave, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters, Past Perfect Life is a compelling YA contemporary novel.

Ally Smith’s life is turned inside out when, w
Out of the Bex
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the heck out of it.

I did not go into this expecting to love it as much as I did. It is rare that I am so invested in contemporary characters, but wow. I loved Ally and the whole lot.

One of my annoyances with modern YA is that they too often write teenagers as if they're toddlers with overactive hormones. It's as if the writers have lost touch with what teens are really like. They're written as if they don't know anything, haven't had any life experience, and just wandering around aim
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This had a Robin Benway feel to it and I realized I need more contemporary YA in my life. While the story was a tad predictable, I was along for the ride and not mad about it. In fact, the story screams for a sequel. Glad I picked this one up. If you enjoy “ripped from the headlines” stories, this is for you.
Brittany Lamb
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
I’m becoming increasingly irritated with all of the average reads I’m completing lately.

Ally lives a very quiet, normal, simple life. In fact, she’s still struggling to think of anything extraordinary to write about in her scholarship applications when her whole life gets uprooted. If Ally isn’t Ally… then who is she?

This is a good, quick read. It just wasn’t great. I expected there to be more mystery and drama than there turns out to be. I feel like there was a lot of potential for it to be mor
Vee can’t come to the phone right now, she’s suffering from something called university 😓
3.5/5 stars
And emotional and raw depiction of discovering one's identity and how our parents's decisions deeply influence the choices we make as we grow up and become our own person.
What I loved most about this book was Ally not being able to just erase her past and hate her father. A person can feel betrayed and be angry at someone and still love them because human relationships are anything but easy.
Elizabeth Eulberg brings into light how this whole situation not only affects our main charact
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Stephanie
Cover Story: Monopoly House Destruction
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Lightweight
Bonus Factors: Wisconsin, Awesome Stepdads
Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Grownups
Relationship Status: Onlooker

Read the full book report here.
Anne Barker
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to BOTM YA for sending me a copy of Past Perfect Life. If you want to get this book, you still can. BOTM has a YA club now and if you are interested in it, you can sign up with my link in my Instagram bio. @stay_reading.stay_gold.

Ohmygosh this book. Imagine living your life and then one day finding out that your were kidnapped. Everything you thought you knew was a lie. For Ally, that is the case. Now she has to deal and cope with what has happened.

This book was really good. I loved,
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, physical-2019
4.5 stars rounded up

This story was such a powerhouse of emotions. I could not stop thinking about it and what I would do if I were in Ally's position. Highly recommend to everyone.


*Huge thanks to Bloomsbury for sending an arc for me to read an review!*
Very compelling and authentic.

Was with Ally all the way.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Real rating: 3.5 stars
Elle Gutierrez
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it

I expected a lot more suspense and mystery, so that was a little disappointing.

The big reveal happens about 20% in the book and the rest is just adjustment. Although a touching story, I was quite bored for a lot of the middle of the book.

It wasn’t a terrible book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Okay... just hard to keep track of time in this, even though the narrator kept talking about it. Plus the ending was pretty rushed. I didn't feel like the plot was resolved near the end. ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg, 336 pages. Bloomsbury, 2019. $19

Language: R (52 swears, 3 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



Allison, high school senior, loves her life. She and her family live a quiet life in a small Wisconsin town surrounded by a town that embraced them when they arrived, especially the Gleasons, the founding fathers and largest clan in the whole town. Ally is trying to apply for colleges, and goes to her counselo
caitlin e.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley.

This book had a very compelling premise: Allison lives in a small town in Wisconsin, has a super close relationship with her dad, and is excited to apply to college. But applying to college triggers a very unexpected life change: she discovers her dad has been lying to her since she was a toddler, and stole her from her mom.

There was enough in this book to maybe fill a few books on this story but I was a little disappointed by the characterization of the Mom, wh
Anna Motteler
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Also the writing was very.... staged. Not very real to me. I felt like the author tried way too hard.
Jul 03, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, rc19
an interesting premise, but Eulberg's writing didn't work well for me, and some details, like a 17 year old girl lovingly popping food into her father's mouth, felt off...not sure if this was a brilliant, understated example of the father being weird in his raising her to a pretty unhealthy level of closeness that wasn't fully recognized as such, or just off.....the mother also was extreme. ...more
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The short and sweet version:
Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before heading off to college at Syracuse University and making a career in the New York City book biz. Now a full-time writer, she is the author of The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, Better Off Friends, We Can Work it Out, Just Another Girl, Past Perfec

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