You Asked for Perfectby Published 05 Mar 2019
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You Asked for Perfect Ebook Description
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Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard - really hard - to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.
Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.
Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
You Asked for Perfect Reviews
I’ve been so busy racing to the finish line, I haven’t thought much about what happens when I cross it.
You Asked for Perfect is . . . not perfect at all. But it doesn't aim for it to be either.
We follow Ariel, our protagonist, who is a bisexual teenager in his senior year of high school. He feels ready for his upcoming Harvard interview, is expected to be valedictorian, remains as first chair violin, and is continuing to dedicate some of his time to the community, but things come in his way unexpectedly: a failed calculus quiz, his competitive classmate, his best friend wanting him to help her with her band and music, and having to get tutored for math from his friend, Amir, who he thought would never be someone he would crush on.
It felt off reading a book about the stress of the final year of high school and college applications, what is expected, and what is wanted. Reading about how Ariel coped with his struggles but maintained his academic success actually gave me anxiety, making me feel queasy like I was the one who was not enough. High school stress is so real, and Laura Silverman shows it in this novel. Ariel is a teenager struggling with the pressure he feels about all this, but not just that. Silverman added more concepts to this, like the struggle of committing to a relationship, helping our your friends, and understanding that you are not the only one who is dealing with hunched shoulders and textbooks owning you.
I think of all my classmates, bent over textbooks, shoulders strained under heavy backpacks, eyes hooded from lack of sleep. We’re all in it together, whether we want to be or not.
In all honesty, Ariel reminded me of one of my closest friends who was valedictorian of my school this year. My school, being small as it is with only 18 seniors who graduated this year, expected a lot from us. As the first graduating class, we were the guinea pigs, experimented on and tried on. Reading about Ariel was like I was looking at my friend in the eye, listening to her speak about how she will cut a bitch if she does not become valedictorian and a sad smile would appear on her face over the fact that her 4.3 GPA dropped by one point.
I'm not gonna lie: I'm not as smart as people believe I am. Graduating high school was a surprise for me. Ariel is, without a doubt, the male version of my friend. She would always ask what grade we would get on our assignments, and when she got a low grade, she would be like Ariel at times, lying or being unsure of telling us because she felt like she would be seen as weak and get judged. I love her, but seeing how upset she got over her GPA dropping one point would make me uneasy and upset at times, as I would have to accept my low GPA and not be able to do anything about it.
High school teachers, smart students, and top colleges make it seem like good grades, dedicated hours of community service, and difficult classes are what define you. You Asked for Perfect takes place within a month, and we see Ariel struggle as he tries to continue being successful, but his character arc was not developed until the end. If I'm being honest, he never developed, he just had a sudden realization of how selfish he was actually being and how he was only caring about himself for so long. You Asked for Perfect also reminded me a little about myself and how I wanted to be like Ariel--someone who would become a top student, have top-scoring grades, apply to Ivy League's, volunteer at any and every place I could, and remain like a happy person. But, like Ariel, that wasn't possible. Ariel was so aware of the fact that pressuring himself like he was would not make him happy, not get him anywhere, and would make him lose what he gained for so much.
The biggest takeaway from this is that the book is so relatable. Readers can see themselves through Ariel's eyes and understand how big the struggle is. But, like Ariel, we need to see that sometimes, going to Harvard or any other Ivy League is not what defines us and is not what will get us anywhere. If you think about it, it's not always about the schools or the grades, it's about the mind you use and what part of yourself you put into it. There are so many smart people out there who did not go to school, and there are some seriously stupid people out there *cough Trump cough* who studied at these prestigious and off-the-charts schools. There are so many things taught at school that leaves you wondering Do I belong here? even though it was the place you dreamed of attending.
Like Ariel, I had an epiphany. Stressing myself into being accepted to my dream school of the University of Southern California was not going to make me the happiest. Sure, I would be attending a school in SoCal, witnessing the beauty of sunsets and the beautiful sound of the pouring rain. Sure, I would help my parents move to the city they have always wanted to move to. Sure, I would be attending a prestigious and expensive school, but would I be happy? The answer is unknown. Now, as I think about it all, going back to my years of high school, I see how much I would struggle with USC, the academic pressure it puts on your, and how much I would actually struggle on, adding to my anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures.
Feeling like you're a constant failure academically is not the best feeling, but it does not matter if you wish to attend a community college, public college, or private college, because what matters is what you put into all of it and who you decide to become after. It is up to you to decide your future and see what you make out of every educational pathway you have walked through.
How do you know if a goal is worth it until you get it? We work hard for a lot of stuff. Should we not put in effort because the reward might not be what we thought?
I'd also like to mention that there is more than just "academic pressure representation" in this. Ariel, the main character, is Jewish and bisexual. The love interest, Amir, is, I believe, Muslim and gay. Both characters, especially Ariel, are a big part of their religion and community. Silverman is Jewish herself, so the representation of Judaism is really set in the novel, from the descriptions of the food to the prayers and celebrations, it was so nice reading about a religion I'm actually quite unfamiliar with. If I wasn't vegan, I'd want to try out the recipe Laura included at the end of the book of her nana's matzo ball soup.
Reading about the anxiety Ariel had while his year was ending was the only thing I found myself sympathizing with. Other than that, I couldn't relate in any way. Maybe like Ariel, we need to start focusing on others as well and not only us. Maybe we need to take some time off and say fuck it to all the work we're getting in order to actually enjoy life.
Look, forget thrillers: come read this book if you want to be stressed out of your entire brain. Seriously, I had to put it down at one point because I was about to start anxiety crying in sync with Ariel. It's such an intense story about the weight school puts on students, the point of making them ill. It reminded me of The Otherlife, although that focused more on mental illness. And I always say a sign of a good book is when you suffer with the narrators so 🤗I'm so glad I read this.
(I'm also glad I never went to an American school lmao.)
// it also is quite a short and sweet story
The focuses are so intensely on friendship, family, and taking a step back to breathe and put things in perspective before you destroy yourself. It is really short (250pgs) so there were a lot of times I expected it to go deeper and darker...and it didn't. Problems seemed to be fixed or smoothed out quite easily (especially with the relationships?) so it overall lacked a meaty grit that I hoped for. But there is absolutely a need and place for stories that leave you with soft warm feelings. so here for that!
// I also loved the diversity rep!
I mean, I always adore books with diversity, but this seemed all very loving and respectful. The main ship is m/m (Ariel is bi) and he's also Jewish. There are TONS of Jewish scenes which I loved!! So much culture and it's important to see that in YA. Also Amir and his family are Muslim, Ariel's best friend is fat and queer, there are POC characters!
// exhaustion? ya that's me
mate, I feel like I just got flung through highschool again and w o w that is a solid no thanks. I can't even fathom all the work these kids had to do and I am FURIOUS at the teachers. It's all about a system. It's not even about learning or knowledge; just how can you "win" against a system to get the best test scores and the best college. And arghsshg like even the guidance counsellor was constantly pushing Ariel. They ALL were. To the detriment of these kids' healths. This is a real issue and it makes me so angry tbh. (Hate hate hate the orchestra conductor too.) Ariel needed a nap and I just freaked out every time he was driving himself to the point of breaking. GIVE THE KID A NAP.
// overall it is a fantastic story, lots of heart and warm feels despite also being here to stress you tf out
as a good book should be 😌why relax with a book when you can clutch the pages and whisper-shout "WOULD SOMEONE TAKE CARE OF ARIEL PLS" as he burns himself out trying to achieve something he's not even sure he wants. Feels. Overachiever/Slytherin relate. 😫💛
(ps there are a lot of Harry Potter references in here and I am ZERO percent in agreement with Amir that Ariel is a Gryffindor?!?! Like no, sit down. He is a soft Slytherin.)
➳ 2 1/2 stars
From the very second I first laid my eyes on this book, I knew right away that it’s one I absolutely have to do everything in my power to read as soon as possible. Not only is its cover the exact right amount of artistic and emotive; in hindsight, it also perfectly captures the main characters’ inner turmoil, and all the little details that surround the character on the cover depict this book’s aesthetic so well.
What I really appreciated was how Laura Silverman so effortlessly created such a diverse set of characters without much fanfare, proving that representation of all kinds in books doesn’t have to be stereotypical, or a big deal, but is merely an accurate reflection of our society.
If you know me, you know that the main character, Levi, is pretty much, well, me, in a nutshell. The way his anxiety was portrayed really resonated with me, and there were multiple times it made me (even more) anxious in turn.
“I know I’m only in high school, but it’s like I’m already running out of time.”
It’s sad how much I actually related to the constant, underlying pressure he put on himself of needing to be perfect, of being productive, getting the best grades, of being pulled in a million different directions simultaneously, and never feeling like he’s doing enough—and feeling like his grades define him to a not entirely insignificant extent.
I also deeply enjoyed the family dynamics—which were quite reminiscent of Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda’s—and Levi’s relationship with his sister tugged at my heartstrings bittersweetly more than once.
All in all, You Asked for Perfect was set up for success in my eyes—but sadly, it fell short in one important way: all the aspects that made this book shine were there, but not fully explored. Every storyline, from the romance (which was sweet, but never fully developed, nor explored) to the way Levi’s anxiety affects his life, to the friendship(s), felt underdeveloped, when merely adding a couple more scenes would have done so much good.
Conflicts would have been so much more meaningful and believable, had the build-up been longer, and had the tension been given a little more time to simmer, and the resolution not quite as quick and anticlimactic as a result. Emotions and actions were technically reasonable, but didn’t feel … earned yet.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed You Asked for Perfect, and loved a lot of things about it, but the execution was a bit disappointing. Still, just for the anxiety representation and how it shows all the ways in which academic pressure can take a toll on us students, I want to make everyone I know read it, so that they can have a better understanding of it.
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Before I talk about the many reasons I loved this book, can we discuss that Laura Silverman shares her grandmother's matzo ball soup recipe at the end? I cannot wait to make it because matzo ball soup is one of my favorite things IN THE WORLD.
Okay, I'm done.
"When I signed up for classes freshman year, no one told me that straight As, volunteer hours, and time in the arts aren't enough. No one told me I'd have to know every answer to every test and also be a 'unique individual' following my life's calling at seventeen."
Ariel Stone is a senior in high school. He's expected to be the valedictorian of his class—although that's a very hard-fought battle with his friend and rival, Pari—he's first-chair violinist, a volunteer at an animal shelter, a model congregant at his temple (despite looking at his phone when the services drone on a bit), a loving son and brother, and a devoted best friend. He's planning to apply to Harvard and he knows he can't let down his guard one iota senior year or they may reject him.
"I used to get good grades with minimal effort. And I bought into the hype, thought I was awesome. But then the AP classes stacked up. And as the work pressed down on me, I saw through my own bullshit. No one just gets As in all their classes. It's a lie we were telling each other and ourselves."
For some reason, the pressure is starting to get to Ariel and his carefully built plans are starting to crack, little by little. He's studying as hard as he always has, giving everything to all of his classes, yet he's struggling more and more and he doesn't know why. When he fails a calculus quiz, which could jeopardize his chance of being valedictorian (not to mention getting into Harvard), he enlists Amir, a fellow student and family friend, to tutor him.
Ariel discovers that he really doesn't like calculus, but he enjoys spending time with Amir. They are attracted to each other and have real chemistry together, but Ariel can't imagine adding the pressures of a relationship to everything else he's struggling with. However, he wants to be with Amir, so he adds it to his ever-growing list of commitments and obligations. It will all work its way out, right?
You Asked for Perfect is a tremendously accurate depiction of the pressures facing young adults today, pressures that they sometimes put on themselves. At times reading the book made me a little tense because I felt such empathy for Ariel and his friends as they struggled with their challenges. Silverman did such a great job capturing those emotions, the desperate need to be successful in everything, to be a good son and brother and boyfriend and friend on top of it all, that you can't help but lose your grip.
This book moved me. I really cared about these characters and honestly, would love to see what happened to them after the story ended. Silverman imbues this book with so much heart and emotion, and I couldn't get enough of it—I devoured the book in just a few hours. There were so many places where she could have gone for melodrama and she didn't, and that is really the mark of a talented and assured storyteller. I also loved the way that there was so much diversity among the characters yet Silverman didn't make a big deal out of it.
While I wasn't near valedictorian in my high school class and Harvard wasn't an option for me, I still identified with many of the emotions and situations Ariel dealt with. You Asked for Perfect made me think and it made me feel, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.
Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.
You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
This book felt like an anthem for stressed out high school kids. I was in a trance, because it felt SO? REAL? And so important??? Because the pressure to be perfect academically is very relevant and *holds out arm* I had goosebumps and everything.
~bisexual protagonist (HE IS SO CUTE WITH AMIR KDJFS)
~Jewish rep (lots of details and imagery and matzo ball soup)
~Cedric Diggory/Harry Potter rep (there are no words for the joy I felt)
Ariel is a senior in high school, doing all the stuff to get into Harvard, and this book details every single little thing.
And you'd think it would be boring to know about his AP schedule, his desperate pleas for extra credit, the slow burn agony of almost failing Calculus (i'm having flashbacks and i feel like i'm dying)
But no! I was 100% into it. Because the psychological aspect of it is SO REAL. Screw high school relationship drama (even though we get that in this book, and I loved every angsty minute). I was invested in Ariel's slow spiral into academic meltdown, because that sh*t felt so real.
I'M SO PROUD OF THIS BOOK AND ITS EXISTENCE.