Perfect by Natasha Friend

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I’ve never entirely understood why a person, most likely a teenage girl, would purposely force herself to throw up. In Perfect, written by author Natasha Friend, the reader learns what it is like to be in the shoes of thirteen year old Isabelle Lee who suffers the disease of bulimia. However, she does not only have the same struggles as a present day teenager girl. She suffers the loss her father, who passed away two years ago. This is the cause of her disease of bulimia. I also learned that girls like Isabelle feel awkward eating in front of others. They stuff their faces with anything in the refrigerator when everyone is asleep, and after they have devoured everything, they shove their fingers down their throat and vomit. When one night Isabelle’s sister catches her with her face in the toilet, she finds herself betrayed by her little sister.
Throughout this book, I learned the challenges of Isabelle just by her narration. Perfect is narrated by Isabelle; therefore, you hear her thoughts and see events happen in her point of view. I didn’t like Isabelle’s narration though. I felt as if the author was being stereotypical. She did this by having Isabelle sound what most adults think a thirteen year old girl would sound like: bratty and emotional. One of the challenges easily understood through Isabelle’s thoughts, was her relationship with her ten year old sister. Her younger sister, April, asks many questions of why their mother is always crying. And when her pestering sister brings up her father, tears come to Isabelle’s eyes and she shrugs the questions away. This causes the two sisters to have uncomfortable relationship. Even though April still comes for advice to her older sister, Isabelle always finds herself angry or upset with her sister at the end of the conversation. Isabelle doesn’t know if she is always frustrated with her sister for turning her in, or causing her mother to send her to eating disorder group sessions.
These exaggerated group sessions show the crazy leader, Trish, and the stereotypical girls you would think of finding at a meeting. Except when Isabelle finds herself at a meeting with the most popular, perfect girl in school, Ashley Barnum, she finds the need to act differently. Ashley is liked by every boy, is beautiful with great blonde hair, has straight A’s, and is the most likeable person. A reader my age would find many “Ashley Barnum”s in plenty of books. As the book continues, Isabelle becomes closer with Ashley. She finds herself eating and throwing up even more, in order to impress her. I also learned another reason for being bulimic. Ashley is bulimic because she feels pressure to be perfect and is also very lonely. Her parents and older brothers are never even home. Ashley also feels like it is okay to lie. Isabelle soon notices that Ashley cheats and laughs along with her friends just to fit in. Along her journey, Isabelle notices that Ashley isn’t perfect.
Isabelle’s mother is also a mess. She can’t even talk when the word “Dad” is said, and she can’t look at his face, so she decides to take every picture of her husband down. She wears a fake personality to make her household seem happy, although it is the opposite. Isabelle can’t discuss her life with her friends, Nola and Georgie, either. Since her father died, they don’t know how to talk to Isabelle. They seem more like parents then friends.
This is the first book author, Natasha Friend, has written. I could tell by the way she wrote the book. This is because she didn’t develop the characters very much. For example, Isabelle’s old friends, Georgie and Nola, were just forgotten in most of the book. And, they randomly appear later when Isabelle needs them. There is also no exact setting or time period. Perfect was advertised for young adult. It seems too much of an easy read for teenagers, but it has a mature topic of bulimia discussed in the entire novel. The book is somewhat unrealistic, too. The author tried to create a realistic situation, but it was over complicated and the main problems were not completely solved by the end of the book.
With her family is falling apart each day, Isabelle must learn to find the cause of her bulimia. To do this, she must comprehend the loss of her father, but never let him be forgotten in her heart nor her mom’s.





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