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The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras

The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Pub. Date: November 1, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!!)
Summary: AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check

Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes to a screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.

Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.
Genre: Contemporary, YA

We all knew someone like Viviana back in high school: those uber-achievers who take and retake the SATs multiple times, have a volunteer history a mile long, those kids who spent their summer doing work studies or went away to science and math camp. Viviana takes perfection seriously and, until now, it’s worked for her. Despite her parents’ rules about no boys (they instead want her to focus on her education) Viviana is determined to score herself a boyfriend and her world is thrown into a tailspin when, after they break up, he leaks what were meant to be private photos.

Now the entire school has seen every inch of her and the resulting stress (in addition to the pressure she was already under) finally becomes too much: Viviana lands herself in the hospital. With her parents insisting she remain home instead of attending the engineering camp she had been looking forward to, Viv all but loses her mind…until her bestie lands them both a job at their apartment complex’s pool. Suddenly Viv’s summer is most definitely taking a turn for the better; she’s readily welcomed into her coworkers’ group, which includes the gorgeous Evan – and even better is that he knows nothing about her past.

Okay, I’m cutting right to the chase: The Best Possible Answer was the biggest disappointment of the year. It was awful and its only saving grace was that it was so short I didn’t have time to start skimming before I reached the end.

The summary sounds great, right? So what was so terrible then? Kottaras tried to do WAY too much with this book and it read much like one of Viv’s checklists: Viviana gets into an accident and winds up in the hospital because she’s so stressed over her college applications; because she’s so stressed she begins to have severe panic attacks; her mother battled cancer; her bestie’s dad recently passed away; Viviana is now considered an outcast at school because she sent a nude photo to her boyfriend (ex now) and he shared it to social media…though let’s conveniently ignore that technically it would be child porn since she was 15 at the time; because of her panic attacks Viviana isn’t allowed to go to her science-y summer camp and instead starts to work at their apartment complex’s pool with bff; Hot Boy is co-worker but bff likes him…and he likes Viviana so bff decides she doesn’t like him anymore; Viviana’s parents separated and now her father is back and SURPRISE he’s been living a double life and has a second family.

Yeah.

There’s just SO MUCH happening and it’s all pretty heavy stuff (cancer, divorce, affairs, panic attacks, leaked nude photos, etc) but because these topics are all crammed into one book, not enough time/emphasis is spent on each issue/story and the book definitely suffers for it. I do understand I’m in the minority here and plenty of other early readers have fallen in love with this one. Unfortunately, The Best Possible Answer just wasn’t for me.

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