Cracked Up to Be - Courtney Summers In the tradition of Speak, Cracked Up to Be is one of those books where the reason for the main character's damaged-ness is slowly revealed over the course of the book. It keeps you reading, as do the characters, whose voices and traits ring true throughout.

I especially like the depiction of Parker's anxiety disorder, and the way it was revealed in little things--her habit of snapping her fingers, for example. It was shown, rather than told. I did a booklist of YA books about characters with anxiety disorders awhile back, and this book would fit in perfectly.

I thought the ending was a little rushed. I wish the author had taken more time to show Parker's decision to stop self-destructing. I feel like too often these "problem novels" take too much time with the problem, and not enough time showing what the process of recovery is like. Speak succeeds in this regard because we see that Melinda, the main character, is slowly recovering throughout the book, even though she's still dealing with depression. By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead follows a similar arc. Parker, on the other hand, keeps going into self-destructive cycles, and the book doesn't show much of a healing process. She's suicidal and pushing people away for most of the book and then suddenly, she's not.

Also: Dammit, why do dogs in books always have to die? The dog in this book would have been a good way to show Parker opening up and trusting and learning that she is deserving of love, and it does for a while, but then it dies, which seems to reverse all the progress she made. I feel like a dog death is a really cheap way to tug peoples' heartstrings and I don't feel it added much to the story here. But maybe, as a dog lover, I'm just bitter because I never want dogs to die ever. (I think I would have liked it more if Bailey had died of natural causes. He was 10, after all. Having him die in a car crash is just... mean.)

Despite all that, though, I did like this book quite a bit. It had humor and snark and a scathing portrait of high school, all things I like in a YA novel. And it made me cry, and not just because of the SPOILER above. I'm excited to read the author's next novel, Some Girls Are.

P.S. Does anyone else think the "Think outside the tree!" line in art class was a sly nod to Speak? It cracked me up.