Book review by
Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
Perfect Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Poignant read perfect for mom-teen girl book club.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 47 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The dangers of bulimia are clearly drawn, but more than the physical horror of the illness, the book explores the emotional trauma caused too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both strong and weak adult role models. Mother figure needs support and
is unable to recognize danger signs in teen daughter. An aunt and
therapist are able to help the main character and other family members.


Graphic descriptions of throwing up after bingeing. Experience with Ex-Lax.


The main characters talk about body image, specifically about the size of their thighs and their ability to fit a bra.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of parents drinking gin-and-tonics.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is a powerful read -- the depiction of troubled 13-year-old Isabelle Lee will touch a nerve with adolescent girls. Isabelle's bulimia is caused by her mourning for her father. Besides graphic descriptions of bingeing and purging and some experimentation with laxatives, there are painful scenes of Isabelle's observations of her mother and sister, each also desperately mourning in silence.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynicolerf14 May 11, 2014

Entertaining and Emotional Story for Some; Bulimia How-To for Others

Proceed with caution. Tweens and teens may be able to relate to Isabelle's feelings about her father, the family dynamic, or Isabelle's tumultuous fri... Continue reading
Adult Written bysexyhotchic February 23, 2009

Hot Book

This book is the best that i have read in my 11 years of living!!!!!!!!!! I am serious
Kid, 12 years old June 20, 2009

i loved it

I think it is a must read for mature kids 11 and older. Although, it has a few gross scenes, it is very touching. It is about a girl struggling to overcome buli... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written August 11, 2017

This book was PERFECT

I think it was very impactful and interesting because it shows even the people we think have the perfect lives and the perfect bodies. Are more than the eye can... Continue reading

What's the story?

Ape-Face, otherwise known as April, or Isabelle Lee's 10-year-old sister, catches Isabelle in the midst of making herself throw up. She tells her mother, who then enrolls Isabelle in group therapy for eating disorders. Isabelle's thoughts are always on the death of her father and her frustrations with her mother's insistence on keeping these painful thoughts on the inside. In therapy, Isabelle is surprised to be joined by Ashley, the most popular girl at school -- of course everyone thinks she has it all. They bond over their bingeing/purging and start socializing together outside of group therapy. Ashley invites Isabelle to sit with her at the "popular" table at lunch.

Though silent in group therapy, Isabelle takes to journal writing and begins meeting with Trish, the counselor, individually. Trish helps Isabelle open up and talk about her sadness and the problems at home. From there she looks for ways to connect to her sister and help her mother.

Is it any good?

In PERFECT, Natasha Friend has created a character who will make readers cry and cheer as she struggles and then slowly faces her problems. These problems reflect her mother's inability to accept the father's death, her sister's desperate need to talk about him, a new relationship with the most popular girl at school, and most of all, her own sadness she's repressing in damaging ways. Readers may not have the same problems as Isabelle, but watching her ability to face them and move on will be inspiring.

With its realistic dialogue, difficult moments of self-discovery, and harsh critique of relationships, Perfect is a very quick yet unforgettable read. The graphic nature of this book may make it hard for some young teens to read alone. However, it's an excellent choice for a mother-teen daughter book club.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the effects of bulimia and laxatives on the body.

  • How does it damage your teeth and digestive system?

  • What are other

  • harmful long-term effects?

  • Parents can also talk about Isabelle's

  • distorted image of her body. How do you think mourning for her father

  • contributed to Isabelle's eating disorder? How did the rest of the

  • family mourn?

  • What kind of support does this family need to move

  • forward? What should you do if you or someone you know shows signs of

  • an eating disorder?

Book details

Our editors recommend

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