Sunday, July 24, 2011

Perfectly Invisible by Kristin Billerbeck

book cover

Perfectly Invisible
by Kristin Billerbeck

ISBN-13: 9780800719739
Trade Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 1, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, my take:
It's Daisy Crispin's final three months of high school, and she craves being known at her private school for rich kids--but not for her homemade clothes, "geek" status, or how her friend's house burned down at the first party she hosted.

One handsome boy is pursuing her, but she knows he attempted date rape once, so she's not interested...except in a kiss that would show the school how desirable she is. The hot boy she's interested in is refusing to talk with her, humiliates her in public, and is leaving the country at the end of high school. Yet she feels she had something special with him during the one date they had, so she still hopes he'll change his mind.

Then she loses her job and can't get another one because she's "a snob." She can't afford the expensive business college of her dreams, so she gives up trying for anything. But bad things keep happening until she will, indeed, be remembered forever at her a humiliating away. But she decides that's okay. Somehow that leads to her getting a chance at everything she wants, yet in a way that forces her to decide between one dream future and another.

My Review:
Perfectly Invisible is a young adult romance. This is the second book in the series, and I really think you need to read the first book first in order to really understand this one. I didn't, so I was missing some important information. Halfway through, I was surprised to learn that she attended a Christian private school. I kept wondering how she ever became friends with Claire and why Daisy was so loyal to her since Claire treated Daisy pretty badly throughout this whole book.

I also felt like I was missing out on why the various characters acted the way they did. We never really got to know them. Even with Daisy, I didn't realize that she was deeply ashamed of being poor until halfway through, when I also got a few other important clues to her previous behavior.

While the characters were varied, I didn't really like them. Daisy was a hypocrite who was all about appearances. She was good at getting what she wanted while still technically playing within the rules. She's so needy and desperate about the boy that she sets herself up to be humiliated. If she couldn't get her dream of success--no matter how unrealistic the expectation--then nothing else was good enough for her. Though we're told she's had some grand revelation at the end that has changed her, I don't actually see that in her behavior.

I will grant that much of the behavior was what you'd see in teens (though more like Freshman behavior than Senior, according to my observations). However, I didn't like how the romance was handled at the end. Daisy and her "true love" hardly spent any time together and were hurtful toward each other. But at the end they were saying how they had a special connection that adults just couldn't understand and Daisy was willing to throw everything away to go running after him (though she claimed she was doing this to "find herself" and not really running after him). That's not what I'd expect in a Christian novel.

Daisy was a Christian, as supposedly were most of the characters. However, the occasional references to God and bits of moralizing felt tagged on. They could have been removed without the story changing. While characters would frequently say, "I'll pray about that," it didn't seem like they expected God to answer, just that saying that was expected of them. Daisy had an annoying habit of saying things like, "I don't hate her. I'm a Christian" when she clearly did "hate" the person. And she apparently thought doing this would make the few non-Christians around her eager to convert.

The story was written in first person, present tense ("I sidle" instead of "she sidled"). There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language and a minor amount of fake bad language. There were no sex scenes or graphic sex talk.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend this to young adults. They're confused enough about love as it is. I know a 14-year-old girl (incoming Freshman) and a 15-year-old girl (Sophomore). Both are really "boy crazy" and romantics. Like Daisy, both are very into appearances and are thinking in terms of what they get out of a relationship.

The younger one, when 13-years-old, got engaged to a boy. Yes, engaged. This boy repeatedly got her into serious trouble at school by hugging her when both knew they'd get in trouble if they did (kind of like what happened to Daisy in the book). Her boyfriend proposed to her right before he moved a far distance away. If she had read this book, I'm sure she would have said (like Daisy) that they had "something special that adults just couldn't understand." And the book would encourage her to follow after her boyfriend all in the name of "finding herself." We were lucky that she met another cute boy shortly afterward who treated her much better than her "fiance." She was very confused by how quickly her feelings changed, and books like this would have made something natural for her age seem like high betrayal of her "true love." Love is confusing enough without introduction unrealistic expectations.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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