The Best Possible Answer – E. Katherine Kottaras – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 1 November 2016
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 toa 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.
Is this book:
A) about family, family implosion and how to ride the chaos of family
B) a story of strong friendship and how it can hold you together
C) about second chances and learning to trust yourself again
D) a fun story of summer friendship and romance
E) all of the above
“Hint: test-prep research shows that you should actually always pick E.”
It is funny how a writing style can change everything. In anyone else’s hands this novel could have been run of the mill. But instead it is a charming book of friendship, family and mistakes and secrets that shake one’s trust in others. I was charmed from the first page. I loved the chapter headers. I loved how this wasn’t a simple romance where love fixes everything, but instead a story of what love is, how it hurts and when it is worth the risk to reach out and trust another person, whether that’s a romantic interest, your best friend, your family members or yourself.
Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe (love her name!) desires perfection. Grades, SAT prep, college applications, future career choice, social life to study balance. Everything must be orchestrated to keep her father happy. But when this story starts Viviana’s perfection has already fallen to pieces around her. Her father has left. Her grades are in shambles. She is having panic attacks, her mother can’t look her in the eye, she is the talk of the school and her ex-boyfriend spread private photos around that will kill any chance of her gaining acceptance into Stanford.
Viviana might start the summer wanting to hide under the covers of her bed, but her best friend Sammie convinces her to get a job with her at the local pool. There she meets a new group of teens – ones that don’t know anything about the photo, her grades or where she wants to go to college. Evan is particularly cute and seemingly very interested in Viviana. But Viviana doesn’t want to risk trusting a boy ever again, especially not one her best friend has a crush on.
There are plenty more complications, but the heart of this story remains Viviana’s discovery of her family’s secrets, how she shares this story with her best friend and new friends, and how she learns to cope with her past and future. Trust is a huge theme in this book. The Best Possible Answer was a quick and fun book to read with a positive message of starting again.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Family, friendship, parents, trust, betrayal, adultery, summer, college.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Vague references to indecent photos, and vauge sexual references. Occasional coarse language, sl**, wh***.
Published: 1 November 2016 by St Martin’s Griffin.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 272 pages.