kari's Reviews > Cracked Up to Be

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
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did not like it
bookshelves: 2011, ya

** spoiler alert ** Blech!
An unpleasant protagonist about whom I could never find a way to care or make any connection.
This is a girl who witnesses something terrible which she refuses to tell anyone about and then manages to make this all about herself. Really, that's what she does. Going from the most popular cheerleader, A+ student to a drunk, sloppy nobody who still manages to keep everyone's attention did NOT make me feel anything about her other than disgust.
There are two boys, one her ex, Chris, and one new guy, Jake and I could never figure out what about her attracted either of them. I get that she and Chris have a history so that makes a bit of sense. Even Jake says he doesn't know why he is attracted to her since she is about as mean as a person can be with no thought of anyone but herself. Their start-and-stop romance didn't ring true because I can't imagine any boy would put up with Parker's crap, particularly a boy who barely knows her. She simply isn't so fabulous that she gives any reason to stick around.
On page 207 Parker thinks; "I am a bad person."
Well, I know I'm supposed to be feeling sorry for her that she's such a mess, by her own choices, but honestly all I'm left feeling is that yes, Parker you ARE a bad person.
Parker witnesses her best friend, being attacked and kidnapped, at a party and she does NOTHING. Not then. And not when the friend is missing. She never tells what she saw or knows because she feels guilty and she SHOULD feel guilty. Her meanness started a chain of events leading to her friend's death. And she does nothing. Not a thing.
First, when she sees her friend being attacked, she could have grabbed a tree branch and whacked the guy or screamed or jumped on the guy and pulled him off, but she didn't. At the very least, she could have run back inside and screamed that her friend was being attacked. She didn't do that either.She went back to the party and didn't mention what she saw.
When her friend doesn't arrive home, she doesn't tell the police what she saw or what she knows.
And then self-destructs, making sure she remains the center of attention. Oh, her thoughts are that she's trying to disappear. You know what, if you're trying to disappear, you blend, you make sure you aren't noticeable. Not breaking the dress code, flunking classes and showing up for class drunk. Yeah, not so invisible.
By the end of this book, I could NOT STAND Parker and I sincerely hoped that Jake would never come back and waste one more minute of his time with her. I can't imagine why anyone would waste their time on her.
I get that she is/was a perfectionist and that's how she went about her life. She believed as long as she got the results she wanted, that it didn't matter how she behaved or whom she hurt.
But here's the thing. To make this work, to see how horribly she's suffering, Parker needed to be a better person before this happened. I needed to see the difference in her before and after. Since there is no clear picture of her before, I can't do that and the glimpses of the before that we get aren't positive. She was mean, start to finish.
My advice is skip this one.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 22, 2011 – Shelved
April 22, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
April 22, 2011 – Shelved as: ya
April 22, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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message 1: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger My gosh, I WANT to read it now because of you're review! lol It evoked some feeling in you!!


Tina I couldn't stand this protagonist! I completely agree with you. She was a terrible friend that doesn't deserve pity. She freakin' watched her friend get hurt and did nothing.


message 3: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari I agree completely, Tina. Who would do that? And reading about how HARD she had to work to no longer be popular.... puleeze.


message 4: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari ♥Eva♥ wrote: "My gosh, I WANT to read it now because of you're review! lol It evoked some feeling in you!!"

Definitely. LOL


Tina Yup. This book evoked strong feelings and they weren't positive. I just don't get how the reader is supposed to sympathize with the protagonist. The idea that she was trying so hard to become unpopular was so ridiculous. I walked away mad at this book.


message 6: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Tina wrote: "Yup. This book evoked strong feelings and they weren't positive. I just don't get how the reader is supposed to sympathize with the protagonist. The idea that she was trying so hard to become unpop..."

Me, too. She was vicious and that was before the terrible thing happened.


Tara It was funny, I read this book and thought that Parker would be a character you would hate... I was right. I found the book readable, but agree that she was a mean and horrible person. Still can't figure out why she got so many chances from people around her.


message 8: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Tara wrote: "It was funny, I read this book and thought that Parker would be a character you would hate... I was right. I found the book readable, but agree that she was a mean and horrible person. Still can'..."

That's what I didn't understand. It didn't seem that she'd been a nicer person prior to this so what kept people coming back?
She needed to have some redeeming qualities. She wasn't even a decent friend to her best friend, nothing to redeem her at all.


message 9: by Eleni Mcknight (new)

Eleni Mcknight You know, it's funny. I want to see why people hate characters in books so much, especially my friends, so I want to read this book now!


message 10: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Eleni wrote: "You know, it's funny. I want to see why people hate characters in books so much, especially my friends, so I want to read this book now!"

Well, I guess if you're wanting to see how to craft a character that readers dislike, then this would be a great example. I kept trying to find something to like about her, but there was just nothing.


Amber Your review focuses on one of the biggest drawbacks for me: nowhere does Summers remotely justify why a) Parker doesn't tell anyone what she saw; and b) we should feel so sorry for Parker. Had there been some sort of reason, like the kidnapper knowing Parker and threatening her if she spoke up, I might be able to understand her refusal to tell, but instead, it's just far-fetched.


message 12: by Tina (last edited Jul 03, 2011 08:38AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tina Those were huge problems with this story.


message 13: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Amber wrote: "Your review focuses on one of the biggest drawbacks for me: nowhere does Summers remotely justify why a) Parker doesn't tell anyone what she saw; and b) we should feel so sorry for Parker. Had th..."

That's exactly how I felt. There needed to be some reason for her behavior other that could have given me some explanation or some reason to like her. This one didn't work for me.


message 14: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Tina wrote: "Those were huge problems with this story."

They really were. I kept trying to figure just what the author was trying to say.


Brittni "First, when she sees her friend being attacked, she could have grabbed a tree branch and whacked the guy or screamed or jumped on the guy and pulled him off, but she didn't."

Lots of people who've been in a traumatizing situation can tell you that it's not as simple as that. Shock can root a person to their ground when normally they would've done something. Obviously Parker was shocked...and her relexes were obviously dulled by alcohol; she was drunk as a skunk by that time.

As for not telling afterwards? I can understand that, too, though that doesn't excuse her. But as you said...she keeps saying she's a bad person. So she's very much aware of her mistake then. As she also said, there was something wrong with her even before that occurrence.

She also says that all of her antics like attending school drunk were to get expelled. But at some point she realizes it'd be worse off for her in the long run, and makes an effort to fix that, at least.


message 16: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Well, I could perhaps sympathize that she didn't do anything at the time, but her best friend is missing and she has a key to that disappearance, but does nothing. I don't understand that at all and to me that made her unlikeable and so ruined the story.
And honestly if you want to be invisible, you don't do everything in your power to call attention to yourself. I get where the author was trying to go with all of this, but, again just for me, she didn't get there.
Thanks for the comment. I like reading different points of view. ☺


Brittni Ah, I'm glad, usually when I have a different view on something from another person and I bring it up, they take it personally. >.> I just like to talk about things and a dissenting view isn't an attack or anything intended meanly. Thanks for getting that!


message 18: by kari (last edited Aug 04, 2011 05:17AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

kari I try not to take them personally. After all, that's what make a discussion interesting, the different outlooks.
And you brought up a lot of good points, too. I think this book might have done better with me if Parker had been shown as having redeeming qualities prior to this awful thing happening or that she finally admitted what she'd done and taken the consequences. For me, her parents finding her another school so she wouldn't have to face anyone's scorn was still simply hiding, although realistically it is what lots of parents would do.


message 19: by Inga (new) - rated it 2 stars

Inga You summed up pretty much how I felt about this book. For one thing I couldn't understand why she never said anything about that night. I can understand that it was trauma and she was unable to intervene but she seems to have had ample opportunity to provide information about Jessie's disappearance and at least give her family and friends some closure, instead they suffer not knowing what happened. I don't fully understand why she never told anyone about that night. Also, I got the feeling that Parker was a mean and bullying sort of person even before that night, having more frenemies than friends so there wasn't enough of a contrast for me. She was a bitch to everyone before and a bitch to everyone after. Also, Parker seems to have been heading for a break down even before that night, I think what happened pushed her over the edge, but I also think she would have gone on a downward spiral anyway because she couldn't keep up with her perfectionism and the expectations she made of herself and everyone else.


message 20: by kari (last edited Mar 04, 2015 05:31AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Good comment and I completely agree. She wasn't kind before this happened so it was tough to see that it changed her. I just could find no excuse for her to have not told what she knew. If the author has a good reason for it, she surely didn't make it clear.


message 21: by Penny (last edited Oct 27, 2015 09:26AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Penny Hello Kari,
I just finished this book. I loved your review, I wish I could have explained my thoughts about this book in my review as well as you describe them in yours. I agree with every single word you wrote.
Fantastic review!


message 22: by kari (new) - rated it 1 star

kari Penny wrote: "Hello Kari,
I just finished this book. I loved your review, I wish I could have explained my thoughts about this book in my review as well as you describe them in yours. I agree with every single ..."


Thanks.


message 23: by Kyria (new) - rated it 1 star

Kyria Collins Hi, Kari! I just posted my review a few minutes ago--actually, I just signed up to and joined Goodreads a few minutes ago, lol--and you pretty much spoke how I felt about the whole thing. I too thought that Parker was not redeemable by any means and the entire way she acted in regards to and apart from the incident with Jessie was completely despicable, and the fact that she went to the same woods area behind Chris' house two weeks afterwards and literally took poor Jessie's bracelet (which had fallen off during the rape/kidnapping) and kept it as her own speaks volumes--and not, I repeat, NOT, good ones either. Like I said in my own review, Parker was not just a spoiled and coddled mean girl but also a controlling narcissist with obsessive, possessive, anti-social, histrionic, borderline (see: Anti-social personality disorder) and sociopathic overtones. Not a type of character to feel sorry for nor the type that an author should be trying to paint as sympathetic in a novel since there really are people like that out there!


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