Cracked Up to Be


Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers debut novel initially released February 4, 2020.

Aidan Johnson, Staff Reporter

Courtney Summers’ first novel, Cracked Up to Be, tells the story of Parker Fadley, a senior in high school whose life changes after a party over the summer. This trope had been done many times before, but the way that Summers depicts Fadley is incredibly interesting, shaking up the common formula. Originally one of the most popular girls in school and former head cheerleader, Parker used to be “perfect,” but throughout the events of Cracked Up to Be, does everything she can to be the opposite of what she used to be. Parker alienates herself from everyone in her life in an attempt to ensure that no one else knows what happened at the party. 

Summers does a wonderful job writing Parker. Her development throughout the novel is rewarding, and even though she is often unlikable, it’s easy to root for her towards the end.

Besides Parker, there’s her ex-boyfriend Chris, his new girlfriend and her former teammate Becky, and new kid Jake. All three play important roles in Parker’s development, especially Jake.

At its heart, Cracked Up to Be is about realizing that there is no such thing as “perfect.” The novel also tackles tough themes such as anxiety and depression. Summers, who has since written her most popular novel Sadie, is known for her stories about strong female protagonists, and Parker is no exception. 

All in all, Cracked Up to Be is a refreshingly strong and compelling novel for one aimed primarily at teen audiences. It is very well written, and never dull, with some form of excitement at every turn. It’s a rewarding, worthwhile read.