Penny loves her small-town Florida life, and she has her future mapped out. She’s going to community college after graduation to stay close to home and her best friend, Faye. She’ll take over the family diner that her dad has been managing since her mother died. And one day, she’ll marry her high school sweetheart, Logan.
But when she unexpectedly lands a scholarship to a prestigious summer theater camp, she is thrust into a world of competition and self-doubt. And suddenly, her future gets a little hazy. As she meets new friends, including Chase, a talented young actor with big-city dreams, she begins to realize that maybe the life everyone (including her) expects her to lead is not the one she was meant to have.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
I loved that the book wasn’t about a love triangle. Lauren could’ve easily made the story center around Penny’s new conflicting feelings for Chase versus how in love she is with her boyfriend, Logan, but she didn’t. It was included in the plot, but it wasn’t what the plot revolved around. I’ll admit, I love a good love story just like everybody else, (okay, maybe a little more than your average person….but that’s not the point) but a story with a strong female heroine that doesn’t let boys mess up her life is a force to be reckoned with. About halfway or so through the book, I was super conflicted over who I felt she should end up with. On one hand, Chase is cute and new and pushes Penny to reach for her full potential—plus they have acting in common; Logan, on the other hand, is Penny’s actual boyfriend, who’s super sweet and supportive and overall basically her best friend. Here I was, totally shipping them, and then Chase had to come in and mess with that. *sigh*
Another message that was prevalent through the book was the strength of female friendships. Penny’s best friend Faye is a strong character, and their relationship was great because they were never in competition with each other. The same goes for Penny’s new friend from acting camp, Sam. They were supportive of each other in all aspects of their lives. Even if at times they were jealous of each other, they still stayed supportive. I was involved in theatre for all four years of high school, so I already had my own experiences and views coming into this book knowing it was about theatre. My theatre program gave me some great opportunities that I am most definitely thankful for, but I never got as involved in it as I originally planned to because of how cliquish everyone was. Major shoutout to Penny for not ditching Logan and Faye when she made some new theatre friends, because I’ve been on that short side of the stick many times in situations similar to that regarding my high school program. Since this is a review of an awesome book and not a random post about venting I won’t get too much into it, but I can’t stress enough how important it is for girls to stick together and to build each other up, not try to tear each other down or devalue their hard work and accomplishments.
The representation of LGBTQ+ in this book was awesome, and I loved how accepting Penny and the other characters were about it, and how the issue wasn’t that the person was bisexual, it was that they withheld the information from Penny when they shouldn’t have. I know that sounds very vague and I know I’m not doing the importance of that storyline justice, but in order to keep this as spoiler-free as I can, I don’t want to say much more. But anyway, I just liked how normalized it was and I thought that the storyline was done justice.
NEXT PART IS KIND OF SORT OF A SPOILER SO CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK!!
Okay, so this next part is sort of a spoiler, and I don’t write reviews with spoilers in them, BUT, I feel like I need to include my reaction and response to this part so continue reading at your own risk! I love love LOVED the ending. It was pretty open ended, but it felt extremely realistic and satisfying in it’s own way all the same. Penny never needed a boy to define her future for her, she had to figure it out for herself, and I felt that that sent a great message to readers, no matter what age. At the end of the day, you have to figure out what’s best for you, even if your plans end up totally changing from what they originally were.
There’s a line where Penny says that Chase is way too cocky to be with, and I thought that was the best. Not only was she right, but it made me happy to hear, or rather read, her say that. Lauren wrote Chase to be everything we all look for in our male love interests in books. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, she followed that formula, I guess if you want to call it that. Mysterious? Check. Rich? Check. Get them alone to go on an epic adventure? Check. Open up about personal things to make the characters get closer together and to provide a deeper layer to juxtapose the playboy attitude? Check. I know that a lot of books don’t necessarily have allllll of those “requirements”, especially the first two, but it’s something I used this book and its characters to draw from. I just really loved how she took that trope and twisted it in a way that I wasn’t expecting, although I was pleasantly surprised.
I would have loved to see more of Penny and her friends, and if Lauren ever decides to write a companion novel (or multiple) about Penny in the future or about any of the other characters (maybe a previously mentioned male actor *wink wink*) I’d totally be down for that, 100%. This book will be released on February 27, 2018, and I strongly recommend preordering it!!!!! Overall, I adored it and it’s amazing read, so make sure it gets delivered to your house on release day!!
Connect with the author! You can follow Lauren on Twitter at @laurengibaldi, and on Instagram at @lgibaldi!!
PREORDER ‘THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD’ HERE: