Title: Future Perfect
Author: Jen Larsen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 320 Pages
Published October 2015
Summary: Every year on her birthday, Ashley Perkins gets a card from her grandmother—a card that always contains a promise: lose enough weight, and I will buy your happiness. Ashley doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the way she looks, but no amount of arguing can persuade her grandmother that “fat” isn’t a dirty word—that Ashley is happy with her life, and her body, as it is. But Ashley wasn’t counting on having her dreams served up on a silver platter at her latest birthday party. She falters when Grandmother offers the one thing she’s always wanted: tuition to attend Harvard University—in exchange for undergoing weight loss surgery. As Ashley grapples with the choice that little white card has given her, she feels pressured by her friends, her family, even administrators at school. But what’s a girl to do when the reflection in her mirror seems to bother everyone but her?
Amber read this book a few months ago and seemed to really be interested in it, so I decided to give it a try, too. It was definitely not a plot I've ever read about before - being pressured into weight loss surgery as the only way to attend the school of your dreams. I definitely can't imagine being in Ashley's position and having my grandmother basically blackmail me and lure me towards subjecting my body to her own demands by holding things I want or really need over my head.
What I really liked about this book was Ashley's character. Even if she was what she considered "fat," she didn't let it bother her. She was the top of her class, involved in all sorts of activities, smart, hard-working, and definitely very witty. I was very impressed with how many times throughout the book her response to comments about her body was that she was happy with who she was and her body was nobody else's but her own. She had a lot of self-confidence and I really admired that. I definitely think she's a very inspirational main character that young girls need to read about, because I feel that as a whole teen girls are taught to obsess over their looks and appear "perfect." (We're ALL guilty of this, honestly.)
So yeah, it was a welcome change to read about a character that doesn't care about the preconceived notions of what she's supposed to look like. Each year when she got that card from her grandmother promising things such as a new car or shopping sprees or fancy vacations, she didn't give in to the temptation. She knew that by choosing to cave to her grandmother's bribes she would be giving up a part of herself and her morals and she knew to stick to her beliefs and not cave in. (I don't know if I could honestly be that strong. I'd definitely cave to a new car or an exotic vacation, and ABSOLUTELY if my grandmother offered to pay four years of tuition for the school of my dreams...I feel like we all want to say we'd be as strong as Ashley, but I don't realistically that I'd be able to do it.) So she's definitely a very admirable character indeed.
There was only one thing about this book that I didn't like, and that was Grandmother herself. Even though Ashley loves her and she's her family, she does know how mean and manipulative she is, and I get that that's the point of the book and all and she's supposed to be painted as tough and very, very manipulative. But the one thing about the book that I just couldn't shake was one specific action -- the fact that she had the money to pay Ashley's tuition but wouldn't do it unless she got the surgery. I understand that she was offering her an ultimatium and all, but seriously? You know that this is your granddaughter's dream and it won't be possible without a scholarship. And even when she's telling you that her body is hers and the only opinion about it that matters is hers -- in which case you should stop bullying and pressuring her because she's right -- you should respect that and still help her dreams come true.
I don't know. It just particularly pisses me off that Ashley's grandmother had the potential to make all of her dreams become a reality and absolutely would not do it unless she underwent a very invasive surgery that she had no desire to do. That's just the ultimate level of b*tchery, in my opinion.
All in all, Future Perfect was a very interesting and inspiring read about keeping your goals in sight and refusing to give up the morals that shape you. I definitely recommend this book to anybody looking for a little boost in their confidence, because this book absolutely helps you realize that some of the things that we worry about in our life aren't nearly as important as we think they are. This was a super body-positive book that I definitely recommend you add to your to-read list right away. (There's a link up at the top of this post for you to do it.)