Thursday, September 15, 2011

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

A summer job is exactly the distraction that Chelsea needs in order to finally get over Ezra, the boy who dumped her on her a** and broke her heart to pieces just a few weeks before. So when Chelsea's best friend, Fiona, signs them up for roles at Essex Historical Colonial Village, Chelsea doesn't protest too hard, even though it means spending the summer surrounded by drama geeks and history nerds. Chelsea will do anything to forget Ezra.

But when Chelsea and Fiona show up for their new jobs, they find out Ezra's working there too. Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. ...or will this turn out to be exactly the summer that Chelsea needed, after all?

Reading Past Perfect was reminiscent of the time I read Psych Major Syndrome. I just didn’t want to stop reading it. Not because it’s an adrenalin-fuelled, tension-filled, mind-blowing plot but because I was just having such a good time reading it that it felt like a crime to stop. So I read Past Perfect until 3am and grinned and sighed my way through it. 

The first reason I fell in love with this book was because is gorgeously funny. The prose is a dream: insightful and sharp and snarky, slightly whimsical and completely relate-able. I found out after reading that Sailes is a comedienne. Which absolutely makes sense as not only were there poignantly brilliant one-liners, but the whole experience is doused in a whimsical and clever humour. Gosh, I was crushing on so many sentences and sentiments and overall themes. 

The premise of this book is truly awesome. Chelsea is working @ a historical colonial village, where her parents also work, and her relationship with employees there is somewhat family-like. They are close-knit and loyal and I loved them to bits (some were endearing, others intense and others provided comic relief). Amongst them is Chelsea’s (awesome) best friend &, awkwardly, her ex-boyfriend, who she just can’t seem to get over. 

Chelsea’s Historical village is in a fierce all-out, teenager-y war with the teenagers who work @ a rival historical village across the road. (Think the townies and the cadets in On the Jellicoe Road). Chelsea gets kidnapped by one particularly cute boy from the enemy’s camp and even after her rescue can’t stop crushing on him even though he is completely forbidden... 

I loved the escalating war between the two teen historical summer-job crews. It was clever and intense and fiery. And funny, haha. 

I loved the whole setting of Chelsea working at the colonial village. So much fodder for in-jokes, random historical trivia (awesome stuff) and it’s a vivid setting I haven’t read before in YA ~ kind of like a summer camp vibe, but more funky ~ and Sailes absolutely takes advantage of it ~ using quiet irony, loads of humour and a little bit of heart. This is one of those books that so effortlessly portrays a vivid setting that you feel you were there with the characters, and bonded along. I felt like a part of the gang :) I want to go there and hang out. 

I LOVED the romance in this. It was just perfect for my tastes. I swooned, I ached, I wanted more of Dave ~ their chemistry and honesty and dialogue and kisses and complications and betrayals felt so genuine. lovelovelove. 

Not only was Chelsea and Dave's relationship brilliant ~ but all the characters were real. Chelsea’s best friend was funny and true and I loved her. Her parents cracked me up. Even minor characters were treated with their own unique flavour. 

My bud Flannery talks more about the history side of it~ it was genius and so relate-able and even while I was having immense fun reading this ~ it also made me think a little ~ about history and my memories, and who I am and what makes me me, etc. It had a gorgeous message without being at all didactic (rather liberating the reader to think for themselves. Without sounding cheesy ~ it felt uplifting by the end) 

There’s some awesome jokes in here, a brilliant sense of camaraderie ~ it feels like Sailes took her time creating this world and it’s nuances and characters (loved the ice-cream testing, the FARBS, the history the people had together). 

I pretty much thought this was brilliant. Pretty much a perfect reading experience for me (loved every single minute of it) Why aren’t there more YA books like this? 

Thanks to Flannery for recommending this to me (it was even better than I imagined!) and to S & S Galley Grab for the galley :) ~ I will be purchasing my own copy to squeeze onto my favourite shelf :D 


  1. i am so so desperate to get my hands on this one!
    especially after reading your review :)

  2. Nomes your reviews are so lovely. You completely won me over with the Jellicoe Road reference. Now I want to read it just to see the whole rivalry and her being kidnapped by Mr hot stuff :D

  3. I mentioned Jellicoe Road in my review too! LOL the turf wars in this book seemed like a less intense version of what was in Melina Marchetta's novel. Didn't love this one like you did but I still recommend it for fans of contemporary YA.

  4. WOW! It says a lot that you will be buying your own copy because I know how you don't often do that.

    I'm such a sucker for forbidden love. Dave sounds awesome. I must meet him. And mention anything reminiscent of OtJR and I'm all for it!

  5. This is awesome! I'm so pumped to read it now. which is cool because it's next on my reading dock!!!


    Awesome review.

  6. Every review I've read of this one has said it's amazing and I'm so glad to read that your opinion isn't any different. I can't wait to read this novel!

  7. Wasn't this book awesome?! Leila Sales' writing is just hilarious and her characters are awesome as well. And the romance was so swoony even though it wasn't the hugest part of the book. The trampoline scene?! My gosh. I've actually read my GalleyGrab copy twice, haha. I'll definitely have to put it on my wishlist.

  8. Your review makes it sound way better than the blurb. I'll definitely add this to my list. Thanks!

  9. I thought Mostly Good Girls was HILARIOUS and I've been hearing that this one is just as good, if not better, so I'm beyond excited to read it!

  10. I've heard some really good things about this book and your review makes me want to read it even more.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  11. After reading your insightful review, I want to read this book even more. I just love the fun cover. Every time I see it, it reminds me of Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Hehe. I'm looking forward to ache and be swooned by Dave. Great review!:)

  12. You are so right that it has the same feeling as Psych Major Syndrome.

    Just yesterday, I was reading a list of pilot televisions shows that our networks produced. I am SO SAD because they filmed one about people working in a reenactor history village and come on, that would be my new favorite show. So many hilarious possibilities.

    Loved the review, especially the bits you talked about me. ME ME ME!:) Just kidding, Nomes. Well, not about the loving the review.

  13. Awesome review! I love this book too especially the trampoline scene :)

  14. I've seen a lot of people raving about this one. It sounds like such a fun read! I'm really enjoying contemporary lately -- I can't wait to read this one!

  15. Brilliant, funny, and insightful, sharp, snarky, and slightly whimsical add up to a must read for me. You always have me adding to my wish list!

  16. I SO want to read Past Perfect- from the title to the cover to the genre- some of my favourites. Glad to know you liked this one!

  17. Oh want want want! I love the sound of this book. I have a bit of a secret love for those historical recreation villages (always wanted to work in one when I was a kid). Once again it's not available in the UK yet (out next month) so I'll have to show some patience.
    Thanks for the review, you have become my go to for awesome aussie reccomendations!

  18. I love this as well. great review as always, Nomes. :)

    P.S.--sorry I le suck with the commenting lately, just know that I know you're awesome. <3

  19. Awesome review! I was totally thinking about JR too when I read it. I loved all the history stuff too and the girls' friendship was so sweet. A lovely read. :)


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