Surprise!! I’m a student!!
And chances are, if you’re reading this, you are one too or you were one, at one time or another!
Which is why I was so excited to hear there is a book out there talking about academic stress and pressure, which IS BASICALLY MY ENTIRE LIFE RIGHT NOW.
Now I know everyone’s school experiences and attitude towards academics are different, but for a lot of people, in high school or even in uni/college, STRESS is a big part of it. The stress that comes from balancing too many courses or activities alongside life, and friends, or a bad mark in a course, pressure of parents, or yourself, it’s just… a lot. (Of course there are many other things that can cause stress, but in this context!)
You Asked For Perfect does not shy away from any of that, at all. Instead, it’s an honest and very real portrait of a stressed, high-achieving student and delving into the stressfulness associated with school and wanting to get into a good university!
And spoiler: IT WAS PERFECT.
The thing that stood out to me the most was the characterization. I could see them so clearly in mind; their aspirations, their goals, their stress and I related SO MUCH in different aspects. I could FEEL Ariel’s stress and pain so clearly, the pressure of holding up appearances, of trying to be ‘perfect’. IT BROKE MY HEART, GUYS. And that’s greatly due to the author’s wonderful characterization as much as it is my own experiences that cause me to relate and empathize with him!!
Ariel is just so RELATABLE AGH, and so soft!! His number one goal is to get into Harvard, and god, the secondhand stress in this one was REAL. I don’t have nearly as much on my plate as Ariel did, but doing IB has definitely added a TON of work to my life and it is very stressful! So in that sense, it was kind of adding to my already stressed-out self to read about Ariel’s stress lmao oops. But it was good!! It was relatable and very well written.
Even aside from academics, he was just such a sweet character? The most lovable disaster bi. He’s Jewish, and he loves his family and his younger sister so much, he cares so much about his close friends, and he’s just so dedicated? Ahh he’s so precious!! My heart hurt for him so, so much.
Did I mention Ariel was Jewish? I really did enjoy reading about some Jewish traditions and customs, and there were also several sentences in Hebrew (I think?) throughout! Religions outside of Christianity is not as predominant in books, so it was very lovely to see some Jewish representation!
I also adored the side characters!! Amir, the love interest (yes, this book has an m/m ship!! I’M IN LOVE) is a Pakistani-American aspiring doctor with a talent for photography (who is also a Ravenpuff; two of the best houses obviously, no I’m not biased at all excuse me???????) and AN ABSOLUTE GEM. He is the SOFTEST and I adore him so much?!
Amir’s family, is also SO awesome. His parents were actually such a great example of subverting the usual trope of Asian parents pushing/forcing their child towards a more “prestigious” (cue rolling eyes) job like a doctor, engineer, etc. as they instead wanted him to pursue photography, which he’s good at! LOVE THAT. Amir’s sister, Rasha, wears a hijab as well and I loved her so much! I also loved how supportive Amir’s family is of his sexuality (I don’t think it ever said, but from what it seems Amir is gay), it made me so happy to see a Muslim family accepting of LGBTQ+ people!! ❤ ❤
Sook, Ariel’s best friend, is a Korean lesbian musician who was also so lovely! Their friendship made me smile so much, even through their rough patches ahh. Y’all know how much I love friendships in books so I truly did enjoy Ariel and Sook’s friendship ahh. ❤ Malka, is Jewish and Sook’s bandmate and I also loved how we explored sort of her difficulties with college, so interesting!
I will say, as much as this book does kind of get tough and tense with Ariel’s spiralling stress and the inevitable decline, the ROMANCE. IS. ADORABLE.
Ariel and Amir make the most amazing couple, and I was just smiling SO FREAKING MUCH reading their scenes? It just made me so happy!! My comments about the romance are so short and basic but I literally can’t form anything other than SQUEALS AND GIGGLES CAUSE I’M IN LOVE.
Can I also say, I LIVED for all the Harry Potter references. PERFECTION. (Plus there was a B99 reference too 😍)
So, um, if you DON’T have this on your TBR ,,,,,,,,,,, WHY.
Literally only complaint is that I WANT MORE.
The characters, the authenticity with which Laura Silverman wrote just made this story so incredibly memorable and wonderful to read! PLEASE READ IT!!
Rep; Jewish, bi male main character, Pakistani-American & Muslim gay love interest, Korean & lesbian side character
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*I haven’t read this one yet (I WILL) but I’ve heard from many people it delves into academic stress and pressure as well and it’s diverse!
Add to Goodreads!! That would be PERFECT, THANKS. 😉
Have you read this book?! What is/was your high school academic experience like? Are there any other books you’ve read about academic stress? Let’s talk!