Title: The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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
Super-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has never had room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection is derailed when her boyfriend leaks secret pictures of her to the entire school—pictures no one was ever meant to see. Making matters worse, her parents might be getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Vivi feels like a complete and utter failure.
Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new circle of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous and intriguing guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again—trust. For the first time in her life, Vivi 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.
E. Katherine Kottaras once again captures what it means to be a teenager in The Best Possible Answer.
In The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras, a teenager’s lapse in judgment results in a heartrending betrayal that soon pushes her to the breaking point.
Viviana “Vivi” Rabanovich-Lowe is an overachiever whose parents’ unrealistic expectations are quickly escalating into an impossible burden for her to bear. The oldest daughter, she is under intense pressure to get accepted by her father’s alma mater, but a scandal with a vindictive ex-boyfriend ruins her reputation and sets the stage for her downward spiral. With an enormous amount of pressure on her to do well in her AP classes, excel on her college entrance exams and turn in college applications, Vivi briefly lands in the hospital which results in her doctor ordering her to relax and stop pushing herself. When her best friend Sammie Salazar gets her a summer job working with her at their apartment building’s swimming pool, their friendship is tested when Sammie’s crush Evan Witlock expresses interest in Vivi. Finally learning to let loose, Vivi’s world is upended by summer’s end after she discovers a shocking family secret and she learns about a few other unexpected changes.
Vivi always followed her family’s strict rules until she fell for her ex-boyfriend. In the aftermath of their breakup, her father moved out and her mother put her on an even tighter leash. Under extreme stress due to her classmates’ bullying and resentful of her parents’ inability to forgive her, Vivi begins experiencing panic attacks. Still trying to live up their unrealistic expectations, she continues pushing herself to excel in her classes and ace her exams but her exhaustion leads to a bike accident that ends in a brief hospital stay. Still feeling like she is too blame for all that is wrong with her family, Vivi has a difficult time speaking up about her frustrations and the pressure she is under to excel. Even when she does work up the courage to voice her opinions about what is important to her, her parents overrule her objections which just adds to her ever growing feelings of hopelessness. At first dreading working at the pool, Vivi is delighted by her newfound friendships with her co-workers but she is determined to ignore her growing feelings for Evan for Sammie’s sake.
Vivi’s friendship with Sammie easily withstands all of their various ups and downs but it is not always picture perfect. They are one another’s sounding boards and they unconditionally support each other no matter what. Their bond is tight enough to withstand the conflict surrounding Sammie’s crush on Evan and his subsequent interest in Vivi. Tempers flare and feelings are hurt, but when Vivi needs Sammie’s help navigating the new “normal” for her family, Sammie is there for her, no questions asked. Sammie has Vivi’s best interests at heart and she selflessly encourages her bestie to act on her feelings for Evan. Sammie also gives Vivi advice that she might not want to hear, but in the end, it is what she needs to hear in order to make positive changes in her life.
The Best Possible Answer is an engaging young adult novel that will resonate with readers who have dealt with betrayal and high expectations from family members. The friendship between Vivi and Sammie is incredibly heartwarming and it is quite refreshing seeing such a positive portrayal of teenage friendship. The story arc about Vivi’s family secrets is a little overly dramatic but this discovery is the impetus for much needed changes in their lives. Although there is a slight romantic element to the storyline, it is very understated and it plays a very minor role in the novel. This latest release by E. Katherine Kottaras is an entertaining and insightful novel of healing that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.