Past Perfect Life

Image of Past Perfect Life
Release Date: 
July 9, 2019
Bloomsbury USA Children
Reviewed by: 

“Past Perfect Life is gripping, touching, and raw. . . . Highly recommended for teens, and any adult who enjoys a well-drawn story.”

“Describe a significant event in your life and how it has influenced you. Seriously? I can’t believe that years of hard work, studying, and planning have come down to having to answer these kinds of questions.”

Ally Smith is neck deep in college and scholarship applications. She’s done her part: she’s the top student in her class, and pretty much just stays out of trouble. She and her dad have a great life. Sure, they don’t have a lot of money, but their traditions and loving relationship make up for it. Ally doesn’t remember her mom, who died when she was a baby, and her best friend Marian suggests perhaps that could be her “significant event” to write about. But when Ally asks her dad to talk about her mom, it just makes him upset.

She’ll write about something else.

Ally could write about moving. She and her dad have moved a lot, following his construction jobs. Their home in Wisconsin is the place they’ve been the longest. Once they settled there, they didn’t want to go anywhere else. The Gleasons, the family of Ally’s friend Marian, are a big part of that.

“The entire Gleason clan has, in a way, adopted Dad and me. We go over to one of their houses—all within two blocks of one another—for holidays. I might still be full from Thanksgiving last week. We’re invited to any family event. And man, do the Gleasons always look for an excuse to get together and celebrate. They’re a friendly, funny bunch, and also extremely loud. I guess if you’re one of ten cousins within eight years of one another, you have to shout to be heard.”

But in the middle of college applications, Ally hits a snag. Her applications are rejected, and she goes to her guidance counselor for help. Her search sets off a chain reaction of secrets, of another life Ally had no idea lurked in her past. Suddenly her plans, her life, and her budding romance with one of the Gleasons is in jeopardy. Is she going to lose everything, just as she is about to graduate and begin her life as an adult?

Past Perfect Life is gripping, touching, and raw. Eulberg puts the reader in Ally’s heart as she grapples with the sorrow, anger, and fear of a dark past. Readers who enjoy complex characters, a cast of interesting supporting characters, and an unformulaic story will enjoy this book and its unpredictable plot. Highly recommended for teens, and any adult who enjoys a well-drawn story.