Past Perfect by Leila Sales
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As far as YA chick lit goes, Past Perfect is a really fun book.
Chelsea, 16, comes from a family of historical re-enactors,. She lives in the town of Essex, where this kind of practice seems to be the bread and butter of the population. In fact, not only Essex has a Colonial time reenactment village, but a Civil war one as well. And they're bitter, bitter enemies. So when summer begins and Chelsea, as every year before, starts to work in the village, the time for war between the factions is on.
Torn between her unwillingness to let go of her past - namely, her former boyfriend - and her unsettling attraction to a rival re-enactor who could finally signify her moving forward, Chelsea, through a trial and error process, will be forced to put her memories and herself under scrutiny and realize what is the value of honesty and friendship.
First of all, the main idea of the book is stunningly good. Historical reenactment, how original. Well, at least for me. You see, I come from a country which holds a certain importance on the historical global scene, what with us having been here practically forever and having gone through numerous empires, barbaric hordes, a variety of popes, republics and so on and so forth.
Yet, NEVER in my life have I had the pleasure to witness a reenactment. I don't think we have them here or if we do they're very much under the radar, mine at least. I really liked that.
Secondly, the idea that our memories work selectively according to what we actually want to remember or not of an event really appealed to me. I've done (and do) that, sadly, a lot of times, just like Chelsea did with Ezra. Maybe the majority of us do it automatically, in a effort to romanticize our lives. Considering the sheer number of books I read in a year to my "escapist syndrome", I certainly have a tendency to do it.
It is exciting when you're telling someone about your recent trip to Burma or to Ushuaia, skipping the part where you got gastroenteritis or puri-puri ate you alive on a beach in Cuba, it is a bit more pathetic and not very healthy when you're talking about a relationship with your former or - even worse - present boyfriend.
Chelsea, like some other female characters that I've encountered lately (Ava in Pink for example, is not a very likable character. I really could not understand her adoration to Ezra, why she idolizes him. I did not like how she dealt with being left out of the flock. And when she finally pulls the wool away from her eyes, I did not think she deserved people forgiving her.
Yet, the book is so funny and the dialogue so brilliant that the story just sucks you in and keeps you laughing till the very last page. Chelsea, despite her feeble personality in relation to other kids her age, has an honest voice and her relationship with her father is really hilarious. The trampoline scene in the back of her yard was one of the best of the books, in my opinion.
So, if you're looking for a fresh, funny, unpretentious read spiked by historical reenactment, Past Perfect is definitely a good choice. Just make sure to tear off the completely unrelated cover first.
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