I’ve been unsure about many things in my life except for one thing, that I have always loved him. Every single minute of every single day that I have been on this earth, my heart has belonged to him. It has never been a question, never a doubt. The love had taken on many different forms over the years, but it had always been a constant.
Everyone has their definition of love. There have been countless songs sung about it. A gazillion books, articles, and poems written about it. There are experts on love who will tell you how to get it, keep it, and get over it.
We’re led to believe love is complicated. It’s not the love that’s complicated. It’s all the crap that we attach to it and put in front of it that makes it difficult. If you’re smart, you’ll realize this before it’s too late and simplify.
Amanda Kelly spent her entire life trying to control every aspect of it, while striving for perfection. Her obsession with being perfect, along with her feelings of worthlessness, consumed her. The one thing she thought was perfect in her life was the bond she shared with her best friend, Noah.
Everything was going according to her life plan until she woke up one day and realized she had fallen in love with him. The one thing she couldn’t control was the affect he had on her. Noah had the power to give her one hundred lifetimes of happiness, which also gave him the power to completely devastate her. He was the one thing in her life that was perfect, but she couldn't allow herself to have him.
Her life begins to unravel. Events take over and force her to let go of her dreams and desires. She needs to realize that a person cannot control the events in their life, only their reaction to them...but will it be too late for her to save her relationship with her best friend?
Present Perfect is a story of how past events have present consequences and how perfect your present could be if you stopped fighting and just allowed it to happen.
Amanda had always been second-best. Her perfect sister kind of made sure she never got a chance at the limelight. She had only one thing going for her and that was enough for her. Noah was enough for her. They had been friends for as long as they can remember, he was her knight in shining plastic armor and she wouldn't have it any other way. I fell in love with Amanda and Noah right from the start. It was a really nice touch that the author started the novel from their Amanda's and Noah's childhood, from the time they really started to form and cement the bond that linked them to each other. As I read about all the times Noah stood up for Amanda, I sort of started wishing I had a guy bestfriend like her. (Oh, wait. I did. But long story short, their family moved, we lost touch, and now I have no idea where he is).
As they grew older, it was sort of natural for their friendship to grow into something more. It was a natural progression that would've been perfect for Amanda and for Noah. But the thing was, Amanda had never been able to let go of her sense of inferiority and although she wanted nothing more than to be with Noah, she feared that she would never be enough for him. He's gorgeous. He's hot. He's smart. He's popular. He's PERFECT. She' not... and will never be. Her fear of not being good enough made her decide to ignore the feelings that have been growing between the two of them despite the fact that Noah wasted no opportunity to tell Amanda that he liked her more than as his bestfriend. There are some truly awwwww-inducing moments throughout the book, particularly those in which Noah does all these things to show Amanda how much he cares for her. But Amanda? Amanda was so scared that she's one day screw everything up, Noah would start running the other way and leave her, for good. It would be better to stay right where they are. They both struggled to regain the comfortable way they had around each other but it was impossible thanks to the feelings that threaten the way they were. Amanda wanted Noah in her life. He's the only good thing in it. Noah wanted to be with Amanda and he'll be whatever she wants him to be as long as they keep each other around. I started to become really annoyed at Amanda but at the same time, I get where she's coming from. But, yeah, I felt irritated for the most part. She can be so blind and so daft when it comes to Noah. She doesn't want to budge from whatever reality she's got inside her head. She's got a real chance at real love and she keeps throwing it all away time after time because of her insecurities.
Remaining friends seemed to work for them okay, though... until, Amanda finds out that Noah started dating other girls, particularly Amanda's other sort-of-bestfriend. She didn't know what to do. On the one hand, she's relieved that, with Noah dating other girls, she can finally start to move on from her feelings for him. But on the other, she feels sort of betrayed. Things get more complicated when it turns out that Noah still love Amanda more than ever, and probably always will. But he sort of needed the space to figure out how to be in Amanda's life without losing himself in his feelings for her. It was devastating, to say the least. Amanda just wanted to keep Noah... the choice she made in an effort to do that resulted in just the opposite. I felt sorry for Amanda for losing Noah but then again, I couldn't help but think it was all her fault. She pushed Noah far too hard, he's got to draw the line somewhere. It was just unfortunate that the line was drawn somewhere they can't keep their friendship. I can barely keep myself from screaming at Amanda to make up her goddamn mind.
So basically, up until the last 10-15% of the book, the main conflict was about the strained relationship between Amanda and Noah. Even in the midst of death and tragedy, they both clung to each other knowing that despite everything that has happened, they would always be there for each other, lovers or not. It takes a few simple words from a very unlikely friend to help Amanda see what's right in front of her all along.
So, yeah. It was kind of a struggle to keep up with PRESENT PERFECT but at the same time, given the character's circumstances, it sort of made sense why they did what they did. Throughout the whole book, we see Amanda's journey of self-discovery from the time she was 6 years old until she was old enough to realize that her imperfections may just be the reason why she's perfect for another person. I'm going to be real blunt and say that I hated how Amanda sounded whiny for a huge part of the book. I think all the crying was a tad bit overdone. The plot conflicts were a bit all over the place that it looked like a giant patchwork of different storylines.
In fairness, I still liked the author's style in writing PICTURING PERFECT. The tone, the prose, the pace... I think it all worked together really well to create a wonderful story. So, yeah, my only contention is that I think it was a teeny tiny bit overdone but aside from that, PICTURING PERFECT is a pretty worthwhile read.