Published by St. Martin's Griffin on November 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Depression & Mental Illness, Family, High School, Real Life, Young Adult
Format: eBook, Hardcover
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Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for—check
Super-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has never had room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection is derailed when her boyfriend leaks a private picture of her to the entire school—a picture only he was supposed to see. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Vivi feels like a complete and utter failure.
Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Vivi realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.
The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras is an emotionally charged coming-of age story of a young woman struggling with the aftermath of one mistake, while also dealing with her father leaving unexpectedly soon after. With the help of her best friend, a new summer job, and the reappearance of a boy she once knew, she learns that it is okay to make mistakes and not be perfect all the time. That she can love herself and those around her just the way they are.
“We’re asymmetrical beings seeking a perfect kind of symmetry that can never be attained.They showed us cracked vases as examples of the beauty of ordinary objects. No design is perfect, they said, but we still can’t help but try.”
Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has everything planned out: taking her AP exams, studying for the SAT, going to the Design and Engineering Academy during the summer, and applying to Stanford. However, one unforeseen mistake, throws her plans completely out the window. When the stress of her mistake and the worry of further failure causes her to begin having episodes of anxiety attacks, Vivi’s parents decide it would be best for her to rest for the summer. So instead of going to camp, she ends up working at her apartment building’s community pool with her best friend Sammie. An opportunity to be around people who don’t know anything about her humiliation or her anxiety. She can just be her. However, even a summer job at the pool has it’s own dramas.
The Best Possible Answer is very character-driven. Viviana is an emotional character, impulsive, and at times makes things more complicated than they need to be, but she is also relatable and real in her desire to please her parents and need to not be seen as a failure. I enjoyed reading about Viviana’s relationships with her friend Sammie, her sister Mila, her mother, her father, and Evan, the boy both Sammie and her are crushing on.
The author conveys how strongly Vivi feels for each person, which made reading the novel easy to fall into. However, in regards to the conflicts within the novel (some unnecessary, especially in regards to Sammie and Evan) there seemed to be a little too many. I would have enjoyed more time spent delving deeper into some of the storylines or characters. For example, Vivi herself and Vivi’s mother.
Overall, The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras is a well-written novel, with relatable characters and a clear strong message that is encouraging to readers: Doing your best and being happy with who you are, no matter the mistakes, is what is important. Not perfection. As Vivi’s mother told her, “You are so very young. Your life has only just begun. Don’t let your mistakes define you.” Excellent advice. I happily recommend this book.
(I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review)