Release Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Age Group: Young Adult
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….
I love Past Perfect. It has everything I love- a unique take on a classic story, fun and quirky characters, a sweet and slightly steamy romance, and fantastic writing- in just the right doses.
The classic story is the Romeo and Juliet-esque forbidden romance of narrator Chelsea Glaser and the off-limits boy Dan Malkin. The unique twist? They are on opposite sides of a prank war between two historical reenactment attractions. Chelsea represents the Colonial Essex Village (a fictional version of Colonial Williamsburg), Dan is a member of the Civil War Reenactmentland, and these attractions are located across the street from one another. Seriously. I just love that. I know it’s the VA girl in me, the one that still loves people in period costumes, that completely adores this. It’s a fabulous way to take an age-old story and make it new again.
From there, it only gets better. The cast of characters caught up in these pranks simply enhances the random. They take their role in this long-fought war very seriously, participating in each prank as they escalate uncontrollably to almost the point of no return. Tawny, Essex Village’s war general, is a particular favorite, resorting to an actual fistfight in her plight to emerge the victor. She’s like a colonial Oliver Wood, successfully rallying her team to battle no matter what the task may be, even when it’s to shovel poo throughout the grounds of Reenactmentland. Quirky, ridiculous, and fun.
Chelsea is the perfect mixture of snarky and sweet. She is deep without sounding fake, hilariously sharp yet also sincere, and I loved spending time with her. Specifically, I think her struggle to deal with her break-up from first love (and “the one who sucks”) Ezra is so interesting and real. Even when she makes the not-so-smart decision, I am still on her side.
And Chelsea with Dan? So stinking cute. You’re cheering for them to find a loophole to this historic gang war from the moment the flirting begins. My only complaint would be the decision Chelsea makes at the end to get a leg-up on the Civil Warriors at Dan’s expense. It is a little hard to forgive something that heinous, but the manner of which Sales presents it makes it more believable that I thought possible. Regardless, I loved Chelsea and Dan’s sincere sweetness, especially in that trampoline scene.
Though, as much as I love Dan the Southern Gentleman, my favorite relationship here is Chelsea and her BFF and fellow ice cream judge Fiona. They are the best kind of best friends- they are always there for one another, they cheer each other on, and they hold each other accountable when they screw up. I’m kind of bummed I can’t hang out with these girls for real. I mean, they eat tons of ice cream, and they love having real conversations—that’s my kind of girls.
Simply put, Leila Sales is awesome. Her writing is delightful, expressive, and straightforward and it’s paced exactly the way it should. I literally couldn’t put this down, and I know this will be one of those books that I read over and over again. No matter what I say, it won’t do this book justice. Past Perfect has a very universal quality while still managing to stand out in an original way. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.