Summary (from the publisher):
Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.
But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Elizabeth Eulberg was one of my first YA authors, having read Prom & Prejudice and Take a Bow back in middle school. I picked up Prom & Prejudice at one of the greatest elementary school happenings of all time, the Scholastic Book Fair! That being said, I was excited to jump into her upcoming book, Past Perfect Life. I picked this July 2019 release at Book Expo, also getting to meet and chat with Elizabeth Eulberg. We had one of the best conversations ever about Parks & Recreation and The Good Place!
Past Perfect Life follows high school senior Ally Smith, who is doing typical high school senior things like applying to college. What’s not so typical? As a result of filling out her applications, Ally finds out that she is not really Ally Smith and discovers that the past fifteen years of her life have been a lie.
Past Perfect Life is the perfect read for contemporary fans who love a touch a suspense or mystery in their reading lives. This book really reminded me of The Face on the Milk Carton, which I also happened to read in middle school. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but I feel like the summary for this one is also a tad unspecific for the sake of spoilers. Somewhat like The Face on the Milk Carton, Ally finds out that her biological father kidnapped her from her mother when she was three years old. Ally must also contend with her newfound family, in that her biological mother wants Ally to move to Florida to live with her step family.
Past Perfect Life has a very likeable cast. Ally feels betrayed by her father and finds her family life (and life really) destroyed by this revelation. She receives a ton of support from her best friends Marien and Neil, who come from a big family. Elizabeth Eulberg provides a very interesting juxtaposition between Ally’s shattered family life and the Gleasons. I really liked the Wisconsin setting, mostly because I haven’t really experienced this setting before. As a sports fan myself, Ally’s love for the Green Bay Packers was really fun.
As previously stated, Ally has much support from her friend group and romantic interest. However, I wish there was some more resolution about Ally and her father’s relationship. In addition, since the book is told from Ally’s perspective, it was really easy to see and understand her side of things. Her mother is definitely painted to be a bit of a villain, since she wants Ally to completely leave her life behind in Wisconsin and embrace her ‘new family.’ This is something Ally begins to recognize, but as much as her life has completely being upended, her mother also just got back her daughter. I just felt like their relationship could have used a bit more development, finding their resolution a bit rushed, and in a way, Ally gets what she wants with some compromise.
Although I enjoyed Past Perfect Life, I feel like it’s the type of book I may have enjoyed more as a younger YA reader or someone who hasn’t read a lot of YA, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Between how many books I’ve read and me turning into a more mature reader/person, I feel like I’ve seen this trope, where the main character finds out they are not who they really are/their whole life has been a lie done before. The storyline was a tad predictable and definitely put on a cheerier spin. I’m going to be letting my sister borrow this one, since she loves mystery-esque reads.
Overall, if you’re a fan of books about secret family pasts or family dramas, you will find much joy in reading Past Perfect Life.
Past Perfect Life comes out on July 9, 2019.
This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is Past Perfect Life on your TBR? Have you read any books by Elizabeth Eulberg? Share in the comments!