Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Past Perfect by Leila Sales


Past Perfect
by Leila Sales

Pages: 322
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: October 4th, 2011
IBSN: 9781442406827

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.  Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it…

Chelsea has worked at Essex Historical Colonial Village for almost as long as she can remember, and was looking forward to finally getting a normal job when her drama club friend roped her into another summer of role-playing in sweating colonial garb. If it wasn't bad enough, her ex-boyfriend has started working there as well. If she can ever get over him, there's a cute boy from the rival civil war reenactors across the road...

Chelsea's voice was immediately captivating, clever and wry. She's quirky and a little neurotic, and so very relatable. She acted self-centered and oblivious at times, but the inclusion of flaws made for a more realistically developed character.

The war between the rival historical reenactors was hilarious, and reminded me of a lighter, simpler Jellicoe Road. Part of the comedy was in how the characters took themselves and their work way too seriously. They place anachronisms like mobile phones in the civil war village and plan it in austere fashion with a leader who treats it all like the actual war. They throw pejoratives like 'farb' around and take it with extreme offense.

The highlight, however, was the romance. Dan and Chelsea's relationship melted even decidedly unromantic me. Their interactions in the odd situations they were thrown together is were just unbearably cute, and by the end their romance becomes touching on a whole other level.

Past Perfect also reminded me of something John Green said in his vlogs: "You don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened." (A quote aptly butchered by memory). Misremembering proves to be an intriguingly large part of the story. There were deeper themes beyond the fluffy, feel-good exterior.

But Past Perfect is, at its simplest, an adorable and warming read.

 This book is for everyone who went out last week to get Lola And The Boy Next Door, finished it the same day, and can't wait until Isla comes out for their cute, fun romance fix. Or just anyone who wants a cute, fun romance fix.

I give Past Perfect a 5 out of 5.

P.S. Has anyone read Leila Sales' other book, Mostly Good Girls? Is it as good as this one?