Perfect by Natasha Friend

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.

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11 thoughts on “Perfect by Natasha Friend

  1. This book is very popular in my middle school library and like you I think it is a very important read for the pre-teen/teen group. We already have girls that do not eat lunch and they’re in 5/6 grades!! I liked all of her books and she’s a hit with the girls in my middle school!

    1. Yes that is so sad about preteen girls worrying about their weight. Makes my heart hurt because as a 26 yr old I still fixate so much on how I look, and I know I did it as a young kid too, makes me think I wasted so much time doing that! I’m glad the students at your middle school enjoy the book, though, it definitely struck a chord with me.

  2. Eating disorders make me sad. 😦 You know, when I was younger, even though I’m naturally skinny and dreamed about gaining weight, reading a book about characters w/ eating disorders made me want to become anorexic just to prove that I could. Which is ridiculously silly and unhealthy, and I always recognised that, but that tendency makes me nervous about giving the books to girls! (And these weren’t novels that glamourised it or anything.) Hopefully the type-A girls don’t have the same reaction as me. 😉

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