Better Than Perfect

Melissa Kantor. HarperTeen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-227923-1

With affluent and supportive parents, a great boyfriend, a coveted internship, and a plan to attend Harvard, Juliet's future seems written in the stars. Then Juliet's father abandons the family, and Juliet finds her mother passed out from an overdose one night, covered in blood. Juliet's mother enters an inpatient psychiatric facility, and Juliet moves in with her boyfriend's charmed family. But the night of her mother's hospitalization, Juliet unexpectedly hooked up with a boy, Declan. Rather than regretting her decision, she finds exhilaration from straying off the path that has been so carefully laid out for her, questioning whether striving for perfection at all costs has allowed her to develop real self-awareness. Kantor (Maybe One Day) deals with the difficult topic of a parent's depression and recovery with sensitivity and grace. Juliet navigates complex and unfamiliar emotions, eventually arriving at the gratifying if predictable recognition that struggles and setbacks lead to growth. Juliet's attempts to meet the expectations of those around her will readily resonate with readers under similar strains. Ages 13-up. Agent: Rebecca Friedman, Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency. (Feb.)