Authors: Ellen Hopkins
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Drugs; Alcohol; Substance Abuse, #Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, #Dating & Sex
Also by Ellen Hopkins
Margaret K. McElderry Books
MARGARET K. M
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 by Ellen Hopkins
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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Book edited by Emma D. Dryden
Book design by Mike Rosamilia
The text for this book is set in Trade Gothic Condensed No. 18.
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Perfect / Ellen Hopkins.—1st ed.
ISBN 978-1-4169-8324-8 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4424-2357-2 (eBook)
[1. Novels in verse. 2. Self-esteem—Fiction. 3. Perfectionism (Personality trait)—Fiction. 4. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 5. Family life—Nevada—Fiction. 6. Nevada—Fiction.]
This ebook is best read at the smallest font setting on your device.
This book is dedicated to every person who has ever looked into a mirror and thought, “I’m not good enough.”
With special thanks to all the people who have convinced me I am good enough. To my mom and dad, who encouraged my talents; and to the teachers who honed those gifts. To my husband, who gathered me in, and to my children, who taught me patience. To my cadre of friends who prop me up when I need it. To Ash Canyon Poets, who helped grow my poetry, and SCBWI, which showed me the way.
To my agent, Laura Rennert, and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. To my editor and friend, Emma Dryden. To the whole crew at Simon & Schuster who help my books be the best they can be. To teachers and librarians, who share my books with their kids. And, finally, to my readers, who keep faith in me.
I must acknowledge the dozens of readers who shared personal stories about eating disorders, beauty pageant experiences, and steroid use. These stories informed the characters in this book, who wouldn’t be as real as they are without them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Cara Sierra Sykes
do you define a word without
concrete meaning? To each
his own, the saying goes, so
push to attain an ideal
state of being that no two
random people will agree is
you want to be? Faultless.
Finished. Incomparable. People
can never be these, and anyway,
did creating a flawless facade
become a more vital goal
than learning to love the person
lives inside your skin?
The outside belongs to others.
Only you should decide for you—
I’ve lived with the pretense
of perfection for seventeen
years. Give my room a cursory
inspection, you’d think I have OCD.
But it’s only habit and not
obsession that keeps it all orderly.
Of course, I don’t want to give
the impression that it’s all up to me.
Most of the heavy labor is done by
our housekeeper, Gwen. She’s an
imposing woman, not at all the type
that most men would find attractive.
Not even Conner, which is the point.
My twin has a taste for older
women. Before he got himself
locked away, he chased after more
than one. I should have told sooner
about the one he caught, the one
I happened to overhear him with,
having a little afternoon fun.
Okay, I know a psychologist
would say, strictly speaking,
he was prey, not predator.
And in a way, I can’t really
blame him. Emily is simply
stunning. Conner wasn’t the only
one who used to watch her go
running by our house every
morning. But, hello, she was
. That fact alone
should have been enough warning
that things would not turn out well.
I never would have expected
Conner to attempt the coward’s way
out, though. Some consider suicide
an act of honor. I seriously don’t agree.
But even if it were, you’d have to
actually die. All Conner did was
stain Mom’s new white Berber
carpet. They’re replacing it now.
Mom Stands There Watching
The men work, laying mint
green carpeting over clean beige
padding. Thick. Lush. Camouflage.
I sit on the top stair, unseen.
Invisible. Silent. I might as well
not even be here at all. And
that’s all right. At least I don’t
have to worry that she will focus
her anger on me. Instead she blasts
it toward the carpet guys.
You’re scratching the patina!
Her hiss is like a cobra’s spit.
I might want to expose that wood
one day. I can’t if it’s marred
But she never will. That oak
has been irreparably scarred
blood. And even more by
the intent behind the bullet.