Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
Release date: May 10th 2011.
Paperback, 255 pages.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen.
Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame.
On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?
This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws.
One of my favorite devices in young adult fiction is the modern retelling of the beloved classic. It is fun to see how authors are able to use the classic as a foundation to build a completely new and fresh story. Lara Chapman’s Flawless is a modern retelling of Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac that is, unfortunately, quite flawed. As excited as I was to dive into this one I knew I was going to be disappointed by the second page. Immediately the story line struck me as contrived. The further I read the more difficulty I had in accepting these characters and their shallow existences.
High school senior Sarah Burke has only one flaw, and it’s a big one that sits right in the middle of her otherwise beautiful face. In her entire life she has only met one person, her best friend Kristen, who is able to look past her hideous nose and see the person Sarah truly is. Even Sarah’s own mother, the beautiful news anchor Beth Burke, wants Sarah to go under the knife to correct the only thing holding Sarah back from true happiness, her large and ugly nose. Yet, Sarah is determined to prove to her mother that beauty is only skin deep and that keeping her flaw will also keep her true to herself. Enter Rock Conway, the hot new boy in school. Immediately both Sarah and Kristen fall head over heels for him and although he seems attracted to Sarah it is Kristen who he is the most enamored with, at least physically. Kristen knows it will take more than her gorgeous face and hot body to win Rock over, so she guilts Sarah into pretending to be her online in order to make Rock think Kristen is the full package: beauty and brains. As Sarah agonizes over her feelings for Rock, while pretending to be Kristen online, she realizes that she can’t hide behind her nose if she ever wants her own chance at true love.
This story lost me on page one when Sarah sits down at breakfast to find a rhinoplasty (nose-job) brochure sitting on her plate courtesy of her mother. Sarah chucks the pamphlet into the garbage and assures her mother that she likes her face just the way it is. Yet, that is not entirely true. Sarah suffers from low self-esteem due to her facial flaw, and the way the author writes the story it appears that Sarah’s nose is impossible for people to ignore. It is so hideous that Sarah is often the victim of ridicule and harassment by the people around her in school and on the street. If, in fact this otherwise beautiful girl really thinks that no one will ever love her because of her awful nose, then why wouldn’t she correct this flaw if she has the money and opportunity to do so? It is just not realistic that a teenage girl in Sarah’s position would chose to do nothing in order to spite her mother. Although Sarah claims to love herself she very obviously doesn’t and only seems to see value in herself when she has the attention of a good looking boy. I also did not care for the characters in this story. Kristen has been Sarah’s best friend since grade school, protecting her from the mean kids who exclude Sarah because of her nose. Yet, I got the feeling that it is Sarah’s nose that made Kristen keep her around as a friend in the first place. If your best friend is too hideous to date then you don’t need to worry about the competition. It never crosses Kristen’s mind that Rock might actually be interested in Sarah over her. Kristen is the Alpha female and Sarah is just her homely sidekick. I just didn’t see why Sarah would be so incredibly indebted to Kristen.
The first time I read the name Rock Conway I rolled my eyes. Could his name be any more contrived? I found it difficult to take him seriously with a ridiculous name like Rock. Both Rock and Kristen are shallow characters who care more about looks than personality, at least at the beginning of the book. Sarah wants the world to look past her nose and love her for who she is, but she seems to have a hard time practicing what she preaches. She is so obsessed with how hot Rock is that she fails to recognize the good things that are right in front of her.
I think I would have enjoyed this book more if Sarah did not come from a wealthy family and was not given the opportunity to correct her flaw on the first page. She also would have had more substance than just being a girl trying desperately to flee from the shadow of her popular mother. Sarah’s adventures are fun to read about if you are just looking for a quirky romance, but don’t expect Flawless to become a classic.