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Finding Perfect: 09/24/18
Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz is a middle grade novel about Molly who wants to win the poetry slam to convince her mother to come home early from her year long sabbatical. The problem though is her good luck habits and cleansing rituals are getting out of control.
Finding Perfect was the sixth or seventh middle grade OCD novel I read in tight succession last year and frankly the breaking point for me on this particular topic. It was also the third poetry slam book. It basically had the bad fortune of coming after so many similarly themed books.
Middle grade characters are tricky. They're right at that point where they're going through that last big growth spurt. They're rapidly growing into their adult body and the young version of their adult mindset. They can be prone to emotional outbursts and breakdowns — anyone can be but in middle grade fiction sometimes these outbursts are over done, making the main character seem much younger than they are.
Molly suffers most from being written too young. I know she misses her mother. I know she's trying to cope with both the feelings of loss and betrayal as well as her growing need to ritualize her life but she still comes off as three or more years younger than she is. The effect is to make her a less sympathetic and less relatable character.