Finding Perfect

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Finding Perfect Book Poster Image
Hopeful story of likeable tween's struggle with OCD.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some facts about obsessive-compulsive disorders. Resources for further reading (for adults) listed in the back. Provides insight into people suffering from anxiety disorders.

Positive Messages

There's hope. Things can get better if you get help. Have empathy for people with anxiety disorders. See the person, not just the disorder. It's OK to not be perfect; you're still beautiful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Molly's a good sister, student, and friend. She generously helps others, and she's a good poet. Her family gets along well, although of course they quarrel sometimes. Her father's loving and supportive, but distracted by work. Her two closest friends don't get along very well, but both are loyal and supportive of Molly, and mostly just ignore each other. Older sister Kate always has a shoulder for Molly when she needs one to cry on.


Blood is mentioned a few times when Molly bites the inside of her mouth and when she scratches a scab. Someone deliberately smashes a collection of glass figurines. A friend obsessed with obituaries mentions causes of death; some are violent, and one is from a drug overdose.


A middle schooler claims she kissed a boy more than once. Molly notices a boy's attractive features. Tweens briefly discuss who they like and go to a boy-girl party hoping to see the boys they like.


Twizzlers, Sharpies, Skittles, and M&Ms.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult has an unlit cigarette in her mouth and says she's trying to quit smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Finding Perfect is the story of a 12-year-old girl who starts to show obsessive-compulsive tendencies after her mother moves out of the country for a job. The novel destigmatizes anxiety disorders and will help inspire empathy for people who suffer from them. Narrator Molly is a good role model at home and at school, and she starts to learn how to accept the lack of perfection in herself and the world around her. There are a couple of mentions of blood, including a few times when Molly bites the inside of her mouth. There are some brief boy-girl "liking" dynamics, and one middle schooler claims she kissed a boy more than once. Lots of positive role models for family and friendship dynamics, in good times and in bad.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTwinkle Toes April 19, 2020

No real climax of the story

I was pretty disappointed after reading the book because there was nothing I got out of or learned from reading the book. I felt like there was no climax or an... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 9, 2017

Finding Perfect Is A Fantastic Book!

After her mom moves to another country to take a job for a year, 12-year-old Molly becomes convinced that FINDING PERFECT balance in the things around her is th... Continue reading

What's the story?

After her mom moves to another country to take a job for a year, 12-year-old Molly becomes convinced that FINDING PERFECT balance in the things around her is the only way to keep her family safe. This means her pencils have to be sharp, her erasers clean, her markers in rainbow order, and her collection of glass figurines aligned with a ruler. As she starts to suspect that her mother may have meant to move away for more than just a year, Molly's less and less able to control her compulsions, and more afraid people will think she's crazy and won't want anything to do with her. But what if she is crazy? How can she get the help she so desperately needs?

Is it any good?

Author Elly Swartz's rock-solid voice for 12-year-old Molly creates a compelling and likeable hero whose struggle with anxiety will really resonate with tweens. They'll learn a lot about what it's like to suffer with OCD, and they'll be encouraged to see the person and not the disorder.

The well-structured story keeps the pages turning as Molly negotiates the hazards of school and home life. Tweens will find a lot of hope during a time of big changes in their own lives as Molly learns that she'll be OK even without Finding Perfect, and how to live in a world where so many things are outside her control.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Finding Perfect shows what it's like to have OCD. Do you think Molly is crazy? Do you think you could be friends with someone who has OCD?

  • Why was it so hard for Molly to get help before things got out of control? Have you ever needed help but didn't know how, or want, to ask for it? What happened?

  • Did you like Molly's poems? Why, or why not? What is slam poetry?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age and mental illness stroies

Themes & Topics

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