Saturday, July 6, 2019

YA ARC Review: Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg

Past Perfect Life
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication: Bloomsbury YA (July 9, 2019)

Description: An exciting new direction for acclaimed author Elizabeth Eulberg, Past Perfect Life is a tense and tender read about secrets and lies, reality and identity, and the ways we put ourselves back together when everything is broken.

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is--spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn't be? In a few short months, everything's going to change, big time.

But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she's not Allison Smith. And Ally's--make that Amanda's--ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?

Perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, this is the story of one teen's search for herself amid the confusion of a shattered past and a future far from all she planned.

My Thoughts: Ally Smith has a great life. She loves living in Valley Falls, Wisconsin. She has a close circle of friends and has been adopted into the Gleason clan who run the town. A Gleason is the Sheriff. A Gleason owns the Hardware Store. A Gleason owns the local garage.

She and her dad were welcomed with open arms when they arrived eight years earlier. It has been just the two of them for all of the life that Ally remembers. Ally's dad is her best friend. They have a wonderful relationship with many rituals and family traditions. Ally is number one in her class and looking forward to going to college at nearby University of Wisconsin-Green Bay if she can only get through the college admission essays. What is a significant event anyway?

Things start to go wrong when she submits her college applications and they are bounced back because of an invalid Social Security number. A visit to the school's guidance councilor sets massive changes in motion. A visit from the Sheriff and the FBI puts the icing on an unwanted cake. Ally Smith isn't Ally Smith. She was kidnapped by her dad when she was three-years-old and they have been on the run since. Her mother didn't die of cancer. In fact, she has been searching for her daughter Amanda for fifteen years and living her life around the hunt from impassioned pleas on television to the annual march in Tampa to keep her memory alive.

Ally has the foundations of her world shaken. She loved her father even though he made a terrible mistake by taking her. She doesn't know her mother or her mother's new husband and daughter. But her mother is determined to bring Ally home to Florida. She wants Ally to be the daughter that she envisioned during all the missing years.

This is a story of a strong young woman who was raised to be a confident young woman and who is now thrown into a situation where she knows no one and has no control over her own life. She's angry at her dad but she is equally angry at this woman who is trying to erase all the of Ally's past.

I could certainly understand Ally's mother's side and can imagine the heartbreak losing a child would bring. But I still didn't really like the woman who didn't want to see who Ally was and who seemed only concerned with what she wanted. I liked the resolution of the story though thought it was rather a quick turnaround for Ally's mother.

This was an amazing and engaging story filled with wonderful characters. I couldn't put it down. I had to know how things were going to work out for Ally. Fans of contemporary YA stories won't want the miss this one!

Favorite Quote:
Grandma Gleason takes the bowl from my shaking hands and places it on the coffee table. "Are you okay?"

Jesus Christ, can people stop asking me that? I'm going to start wearing a T-shirt that says, No, I'm Not Okay and It's Not Going to Get Better.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Bloomsbury YA. You can buy your copy here.

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