Thursday, July 28, 2011

READING: Flawless by Lara Chapman

Flawless by Lara Chapman

Publication date: May 10th, 2011
Published by: Bloomsbury USA
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: --
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes,
gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny—all right, enormous—flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame.

On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do—she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?
Flawless is a very funny and sweet book. It's the modern retelling of Cyrano's story(we've all seen Roxanne). So this is a story of a girl, Sarah, who falls in love with a new hot transfer student, Rock. It so happens that Sarah's best and gorgeous friend Kristen, has also fallen in love with Rock and asks for Sarah's help to write him emails convincing her that if she wrote them herself they would sound childish and idiotic. At the end, Sarah ends up with Rock(duh)because they are both smart and like the same things, poetry for example. 

Now, I don't have any problem whatsoever with the book and the way it has been written. The original story isn't Chapman's, who admittedly did a great job in modernizing it and re telling it from a girl's prospective. What I object to however is the core of the story and the absurd level of unrealistic romanticism in it. 
I mean, come on. Let's be honest. When does a hot guy, a 10-9-8 if you want to talk numbers, ever dated an ugly 5-4-3 girl?
Let me think.
Once, twice…no. Zero times!That's how many times it's happened. At least from my personal and my social circle's experience . And when I say "ugly", I refer to the physical appearance only. Sarah in this case is a very bright and opinionated young woman(even though I found the emails she sent to Rock quite simple and easy to think up. I mean, it's not rocket science!) but is that all it takes? If it was so, people would be much happier and stripped of insecurities. I certainly don't blame the 10-9-8 guys or the 10-9-8 girls who look for someone equally hot, it's evolution, physics. They have every right to, it's their primal instinct after all. We see Sarah too looking for the 10, Rock, and practically drooling over him when she first saw him, regardless of his interests, behavior etc. She hadn't even talked to him at this point. He could have been a complete jerk and she would still be attracted to him physically, at least at first. 
When she considers dating another guy, Jay, she hesitates thinking yeah, he's good looking enough but he's not Rock (what does that even mean?) Further down the line she says something about them being a potentially nice couple(her and Jay)because "We're both blond, attractive and have great smiles". 1. You're not convincing me of your wits, Sarah! 2.Criteria that someone immediately takes into consideration in order to find the best mate(evolution, hello! Sarah must have read a lot of Dawkins but doesn't swear by him for some reason.) 
In other words, having a very handsome guy falling for a girl who repeatedly says that her nose is the size of America, makes me kinda angry because in my mind it's never gonna happen. It's utopian. I may be cynical and mean but I'd like to think myself more of a realist than cynical and pessimist.

What also really annoyed me was that Sarah's friend Kristen, she of the perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect body, is apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Why? Is it like an innate thing, predetermined? Beauty comes with stupidity? What the hell? Enough with the stereotypes already!This is 2011! Personally i think that apart from treating Sarah like shit, Kristen was not stupid at all. I wanted to scream at Sarah when Kristen asked her what is she good at and Sarah couldn't think of anything. Oh yeah? Really? Why is she your best friend then? Like you're MIT genius because you read poetry. Geez! Sarah also had the indecency to think that Jay might best suit Kristen, a guy who she has not only rejected for not being good enough but was also said to be so dim that "the best thing he has to offer to a conversation is people impersonations". If you think so lowly of him why suggest he's right for your best friend? Ugh, whole thing makes me angry and I just don't get it.

Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe I should just relax and think it's just another story, a fictional story. I don't know. It just rubbed me the wrong way, in the sense that I feel it gets totally wrong messages out to teenagers and people who read it in general, regardless of age. I like Chapman's writing and I would maybe like to read her future works, but right now I cannot possibly rate Flawless. Good/bad rating, both seem unfair under the circumstances. 
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  1. Too bad this one wasn't too great for does sound pretty funny though. Have you read At Face Value? That's another Cyrano retelling, and its quite cute :) Great, honest review

  2. I actually really enjoyed this one. I thought it was pretty smart actually the way the author upped the stereotypes with the best friend and some of the other characters because at the end she shows you none of it matters. Besides who hasn't had a friend they thought looked better than them?

  3. @Cindy: No I haven't read it. I think I'll try it out just to see what the writer's take on the story is. Thanks for the rec!

    @Khadija: Everyone has had a friend who it better looking than them. I know I had my share. And they always ended up with the hottest guys regardless if themselves or the guys were smart or not or if they had the same interests or not. I am not saying they're matches made in heaven or that their relationships last (sometimes they do) but they always end up together. And I repeat, at least from my experience :)

  4. I liked this retelling. For some reason I pictured Sarah as extremely beautiful, except for the large nose.


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