Title: Past Perfect
Author: Leila Sales
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Sales
Newly single and heartbroken, Chelsea is about to start her perpetual summer job as a reenactment actor at Essex, a colonial village. Coming back to Essex for the summer unfortunately guarantees a hot, itchy costume and endless, ignorant questions from summer visitors but it also ensures that she gets to work with best friend, Fiona, and won’t end up running into the ex-boyfriend, Ezra. However, Chelsea gets a big surprise on the first day when Ezra shows up working at Essex as well. As if things could not get any worse, Chelsea finds herself falling for a cute guy who works over at the Civil War reenactment park across the street, currently at war with the Essex crowd. With all these complications, Chelsea is in for a life-changing summer she will never forget.
When I started this book, I figured it would be the typical girl-is-heartbroken-but-falls-for-a-better-guy-so-everything-is-perfect type of book. While those books can be a nice escape, the unrealistic situations can get a little annoying. However, this book was much more and really exceeded my expectations in many ways. First off, it takes place in a colonial reenactment village, much like Williamsburg which is so familiar to anyone living in this area. So the setting was unique and led to some fun situations and hilarious asides from Chelsea. Speaking of Chelsea, her narration is absolutely perfect. Her observations of the people and events around her, even when flawed, are accurate to a teen going through her predicament. She is a very real character as are her parents particularly her father, the cynical history buff.
I also loved the war between the two reenactment villages. It added a nice layer to a book that, on surface, is just about a girl dealing with an upsetting break-up. The other characters are relatively stock, but the relationships between the major characters such as Chelsea, her parents, her best friend, and the love interests help to make this book stand out among some with similar themes. I’m not saying that it is incredibly deep, but if you like this genre, Past Perfect is definitely something special.
The Bottom Line: I surprisingly loved Past Perfect. From the colonial reenactment village setting to the main character’s insightful discoveries about the people and relationships in her life, this one is a wonderful addition to the chick-lit genre.