Book Review: “Finding Perfect” by Elly Swartz

finding perfect“To twelve-year-old Molly Nathans, perfect is:

―The number four
―The tip of a newly sharpened No. 2 pencil
―A crisp white pad of paper
―Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines

What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are sometimes broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Poetry Slam Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with white tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?

But as time passes, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control. In this fresh-voiced debut novel, one girl learns there is no such thing as perfect.” (Macmillan)

Elly Swartz has absolutely nailed her debut middle grade novel, Finding Perfect. This book is full of incredible heart and eye opening characters.

Molly Nathans is a strong voiced and relatable character. Molly faces many of the same problems as the targeted audience does such as pressures to succeed, a complicated home life, and the ever changing relationship dynamics with friends and siblings. Readers will see their own reflection in Molly’s story – whether they have taken on the roll of primary caretaker of a sibling as Molly does with Ian, been in a fight with a best friend, or felt the need to keep a part of themselves hidden deep within.

With Finding Perfect, Elly Swartz has made a huge contribution to the national discussion of mental health awareness. Molly’s struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are very real and affect many. While discussing these topics can be sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable, Swartz has crafted an accessible and realistic account of the progression of OCD. I hope that this book serves as a discussion piece, an empathy builder, and most importantly a life raft for those struggling with OCD or anxiety disorders themselves.

Update (8/15/16):

Check out the audio trailer for Finding Perfect here!

Title: Finding Perfect
Written by: Elly Swartz
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
On Sale: October 18th, 2016

Review by: Paul Orsino

(Copy for review received from publisher)



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