Title:  Perfect
Author:  Natasha Friend
Release date:  September 16, 2004
Publisher:  Milkweed Editions
Pages:  232
Genre:  Middle grade fiction
Source:  Library

When thirteen-year-old Isabelle’s sister catches her throwing up her dinner one night and tattles to their mother, Isabelle finds herself spending every Wednesday evening at an eating disorder support group.  When Ashley Barnum, the most popular girl in Isabelle’s class, shows up at group one evening, Isabelle starts to think that maybe “perfect” isn’t so perfect after all.

I’m not sure what inspired me to pick up Perfect from the library’s shelves.  I think I just needed an audiobook for that week and thought this one looked good.  I like short, easy books for the car because I can concentrate on them and drive at the same time.  This one definitely fit the bill.

I enjoyed this middle grade novel.  I think younger teens and preteens will really relate to Isabelle.  She has a lot going on in her life – her father recently passed away, her mother is depressed, and she has a super annoying little sister to deal with.  So, she turns to bulimia to control the one thing she has control over: her food intake and her body.  And it’s meeting Ashley Barnum, seeing the problems this supposedly “perfect” girl has at home, that helps Isabelle start to face her problems and heal herself emotionally as well as physically.

While Perfect deals with a pretty serious issue, it isn’t at all preachy.  Natasha Friend obviously realizes that eating disorders is a big issue among teens, and I think she handled the topic very well in this book.  she put things into perspective for a nine- to twelve-year-old brain to understand and learn from, and I think that Perfect would be a wonderful book for any preteen or young teen to read.  While things do wrap up neatly at the end of the story, it is a realistic ending that will give hope to anyone who can relate to Isabelle.