REVIEW| FINDING PERFECT

finding perfect elly swartz graphic

Finding Perfect SYNOPSIS

To Molly Nathans, perfect is:

• The number four
• The tip of a newly sharpened number two 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 often broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with table cloths. Molly’s sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?

Summary: Finding Perfect

finding perfect elly swartz review graphicMolly Nathans’s mom has moved to Canada for work, right in the midst of her separation from Molly’s dad. Her father is constantly engrossed in his work and is often too busy to pay attention to his kids. While Molly’s sister, Kate is convinced that their mom has left them for good, Molly is certain of her return. In the meantime, she works on a plan to ensure this: she’s going to win her middle school slam poetry contest.

However, as the story progresses, we quickly see that Molly is struggling with intrusive thoughts and compulsive responses. She lines up her figurines one inch apart (measured with her ruler), otherwise, she thinks “something bad” will happen. Other compulsions include brushing her hair and washing her hands for extended periods, and an obsessive orderliness. These manifestations impact Molly’s relationships with her best friend, Hannah, and even her little brother, Ian.

The Good

First off, this book is exceptionally researched. Its portrayal of obsessive compulsive disorder is so accurate and heartrending. Molly is one of those characters that stays with you — truly memorable. I adored her relationship with her sweet little brother, Ian, and even that with her sister. Her friendship with Hannah is also mature and a good example of what real friendship means. I also really liked that Molly was, and stayed friends with Bridgette, a seemingly odd girl obsessed with obituaries.

In Finding Perfect, the parents are far from perfect. Author Elly Swartz highlights that sometimes parents have problems in their marriages. Sometimes, they don’t handle issues the way they should. And, unfortunately, sometimes, they get distracted by life and the official business of parenting — bills, bills, bills — that they miss the heart of it. The book also touches on other middle-school issues such as liking boys, and there’s a strong message of entrepreneurship for young people. Hannah is keen to start a business and the girls have a school project about setting up businesses.

Finding Perfect is a solid middle-grade novel with an accurate portrayal of a mental health issue -- OCD. This novel also tackles middle-school friendships, youth entrepreneurship, and parental marital difficulties. Click To Tweet

Overall

Finding Perfect is a solid middle-grade novel with an accurate portrayal of a mental health issue — OCD. This novel also tackles middle-school friendships, youth entrepreneurship, and parental marital difficulties. Molly is a fairly good slam poet — her poetry snags points for being moving. Finding Perfect is perfect for anyone looking for a realistic portrayal of obsessive compulsive disorder with a dash of slam poetry.

Finding Perfect by @ellyswartz is perfect for anyone looking for a realistic portrayal of obsessive compulsive disorder with a dash of slam poetry. Click To Tweet

This was my first Elly Swartz novel and I’m looking forward to her forthcoming novel, Give and Take. It features a character with hoarding disorder — something I’ve NEVER read about in middle-grade lit! Happily, I’ve just received an ARC of that one and can’t wait to get started.

Finding Perfect


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Have you read this book or anything by Elly Swartz? What did you think? What are your favorite mental health themed books? I’d love to know! You can check out my list of books about mental illness here.

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