The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 3.5 stars
Release Date: November 1st 2016
AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check
Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes toa screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.
Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.
I entered into this book dubious - the synopsis opens up with AP Exams, and my friends and I were BlogBound Con and immediately knew that we are already past that part of our lives. It seems silly to us how much importance was placed on these tests, so I did not expect to be able to relate to the premise of the story and the main character.
The book opens up with Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe's College Application checklist, full of AP tests, SATs, and the dreaded College Application. Good times and all the nostalgia came back. Judging how Viviana ended up in the hospital post-AP Physics exam from stress and worrying over her grades, we can say she's definitely an overachiever. I don't think I caused any bodily harm to that extent over grades, but I took high school achievements to the next level, and my friends can vouch for me.
If you are currently or were an overachiever in high school, or are in high school, Viviana is a relatable character. Like many immigrant families and their 1st generation children, she is pressured to be the very best at everything, and enter a field focused on the sciences. She does not have much time to veer off of her schedule, because the one time it did, it nearly ruined her.
The Best Possible Answer answers planning ahead and keeping to a strict plan for your future with something very much opposite that. The future is unpredictable and expecting to stick to schedule would be monotonous, so Viviana is thrown some curveballs and must cope. Unfortunately some of these curveballs are predictable, the kind you expect in contemporary YA. Best friend drama over a guy, complicated relationship with guy, complicated relationship with father (it's usually the father, no?). Regardless, Viviana is kept on her toes and learns to accept the flow that life gives her.
The romance and drama were cliched and felt like side plots. Not necessary, but you need conflict to your summer, as always. What I enjoyed reading was the plot of Viviana's family and her relationship with her father. The message in the end of that is perhaps a message to all of us - our parents are human and we can make our future for ourselves and not for them.
And what I really liked was how we had a Filipina character, Sammie, Viviana's best friend. #pinoypride
Anyhow, The Best Possible Answer has its moments in the family and growing up department, but has its fair share of HS cliches and romance.