This is the story of a teenage prodigy who got herself into trouble. Zoe looks perfect and plays the piano so well that she earned herself a scholarship into an elite private school. One night Zoe makes a horrible mistake and ends up killing 3 of her classmates in a DUI accident. She is 14 years old when this happens. Three years later Zoe is living her second chance life with her mother’s new husband, his son, and her new baby sister. On the night of her first performance since the accident, Zoe is confronted with her past. That same night her mother dies tragically. Told in alternate perspectives, this story is the quest to find out what happened.
This story builds at a steady although slow pace. At first we only have Tessa (Zoe’s aunt), Sam (the lawyer), and Zoe’s POV. Zoe’s POV lends this story an immature perspective, complete with first love and social status bullying. It is good that we get so many other adult POV because with only Zoe this book might have been a typical YA book. Tessa and Sam’s grown up drama adds to this story, but also makes it an adult who-done-it. Later we get other POVs and they all add something special to this story. As far as mysteries go, this was a great read. THE PERFECT GIRL was well written and kept me turning pages because I had to find out what happened to Zoe’s mother.
This story starts with the recital and then leads to the phone call that threatens to reveal Tessa (Zoe’s aunt) is cheating on her husband with Sam (Zoe’s lawyer). Tessa gives us an outside perspective because she is right there before and after it happens, but she doesn’t know what happened. She only sees how perfect her sister’s family looks and wonders the same way the reader does if there is more than meets the eye to this family. Zoe is the automatic suspect because of her past. She struggles to be the person her mother expected her to be, and declare her innocence to those who think she did it.
I was entertained reading about how Zoe and Maria (Zoe’s mother) struggled to start over after Zoe came home from “the unit”. I think Zoe’s therapy recollections add a bit of angst to this story. Zoe is so young when she is thrust into detention and she gleans the worst things from her experience. Marie puts on such a good front but it ultimately cost her her life.
Alas, this story was ruined for me personally was the anti-climactic ending. Also, the author left one huge loose end. I am left thinking we could have done without a certain person’s POV since it did not add anything to the story and we never find out what happened to that person. I have to knock off 2 whole stars for those reasons. Too bad really, because I was thoroughly enjoying this book until the last 50 pages.