Perfect by Natasha Friend
A Novel

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Depicting with humor and insight the pressure to be outwardly perfect, this novel for ages 10-13 shows how one girl develops compassion for her own and others’ imperfections.

For 13-year-old Isabelle Lee, whose father has recently died, everything's normal on the outside. Isabelle describes the scene at school with bemused accuracy--the self-important (but really not bad) English teacher, the boy that is constantly fixated on Ashley Barnum, the prettiest girl in class, and the dynamics of the lunchroom, where tables are turf in a all-eyes-open awareness of everybody's relative social position.

But everything is not normal, really. Since the dealth of her father, Isabelle's family has only functioned on the surface. Her mother, who used to take care of herself, now wears only lumpy, ill-fitting clothes, cries all night, and has taken every picture of her dead husband and put them under her bed. Isabelle tries to make light of this, but the underlying tension is expressed in overeating and then binging. As the novel opens, Isabelle's little sister, April, has told their mother about Isabelle's problem. Isabelle is enrolled in group therapy. Who should show up there, too, but Ashley Barnum, the prettiest, most together girl in class.

About Natasha Friend

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Natasha Friend ( is the author of three middle grade novels and one other young adult novel. The mother of three young children, she lives in Madison, Connecticut.
Published January 1, 2010 by Milkweed Editions. 191 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Perfect

Publishers Weekly

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When a small circus comes to town and Ben meets Sala, a lonely elephant who also knows tragedy, their encounter is both dangerous and magical, filling Ben with hope for the first time since his mother died.

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In many ways the wealthy, educated Day was way ahead of his time.

Feb 08 2013 | Read Full Review of Perfect: A Novel

Teen Reads

Pretty soon, though, Isabelle realizes that Ashley's perfect life might not be so perfect after all and that Ashley's problems might be the result of her own complex family history.

Sep 16 2004 | Read Full Review of Perfect: A Novel

Common Sense Media

Isabelle's thoughts are always on the death of her father and her frustrations with her mother's insistence on keeping these painful thoughts on the inside.

Oct 10 2004 | Read Full Review of Perfect: A Novel

BIOGRAPHER Wendy Moore can barely disguise her disdain for her subject, Thomas Day, Enlightenment man and protestor at the slave trade, who “bought” two orphan girls in 1769 with a view to raising them to be his “perfect” wives.

Feb 22 2013 | Read Full Review of Perfect: A Novel

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