A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Piper Perish is a coming-of-age novel about the artistically talented 18-year-old Piper's senior year of high school, told in the form of her diary. Kissing and making out are mentioned a lot but descriptions are rare and vague. A male friend is involved in a same-sex relationship, and there are one or two brief discussions about sexual preference and how it can be confusing. Older teens drink a lot, at parties or when going out dancing, and frequently get very drunk. Consequences are hangovers and throwing up. Lots of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "d--k." Piper's mother takes anti-anxiety medication, and Piper's sister takes some of the pills once. An unplanned pregnancy is a major plot point. There's no violence, but Piper's sister is verbally abusive, physically menacing, and throws and breaks things when she's angry.
What's the story?
PIPER PERISH is a talented artist who can't wait to escape provincial Houston to go to art school in New York City. She and her two best friends, who are also incredibly artistic, have sworn that they're all going together. But life has other plans for Piper, Kit, and Enzo. One of them meets someone new who makes that teen want to stay in Houston. Not all of them get accepted into art school. And with her sister unexpectedly pregnant, Piper's family budget is stretched to the limit. Can Piper find a way to be happy with what life offers, or can she find the courage to go out and make things happen for herself?
Is it any good?
Author Kayla Cagan's debut novel is an entertaining, light read. Teens will easily identify with Piper Perish as she faces the challenges of growing up and coping with life's many curve balls. The diary-entry format keeps things breezy while capturing an authentic voice that teens will relate to.
Piper is frustratingly self-centered, and unfortunately, the story fails to deliver the satisfaction of watching her grow into someone who makes things happen for herself. She doesn't change much, making the coming-of-age part of the story its weakest. But teens who are wondering what life holds in store for them while trying to figure out love, friendship, and family will enjoy it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about all the drinking in Piper Perish. Is it a problem for the characters? Why, or why not? Is anyone an alcoholic?
Is the amount of strong language realistic for high school kids?
Had you heard of Andy Warhol before you read this book? What do you think his art looks like? Search online or at the library to see some of his work. How does it compare with what you thought it would be like?
- Author: Kayla Cagan
- Illustrator: Maria Ines Gul
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Chronicle Books
- Publication date: March 7, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 15, 2017
Our editors recommend
For kids who love art and coming-of-age stories
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.