Past Perfect Life
By Elizabeth Eulberg
Published July 9, 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.
But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?
I was interested in Past Perfect Life because I’m fascinated by stories about lost and then found family members (twins separated at birth, babies switched at birth, long-lost relatives finding each other through DNA testing, kidnapped people being found years later).
Ally has been raised by her father and believes that her mother is dead. When she applies to college, her application is rejected because of an issue with her social security number. Then the police show up at her house, telling her that her father kidnapped her when she was three and her mother is alive. Her father is arrested, and Ally is forced to leave her life in Wisconsin behind and move in with her mother in Florida.
This is a nicely done story about the difficulties Ally faces when she’s reunited with her mother. Although she knows logically what her father did was wrong, he was the parent who raised her and she’s still loyal to him, something that seriously upsets her mother. Ally is angry that her entire life has been uprooted. She just wanted to finish out her senior year in the place she feels most at home. Her mother just wants to make up for all the lost years and has trouble accepting the fact that Ally is almost an adult.
I thought the drama between Ally and her mother was well done. The relationship with her father was kind of dropped, and I would have liked more of an examination of how a parent and child move forward after such a huge betrayal. Ally is initially angry at her father, but seems to move on pretty quickly, which was a little unsatisfying.
This book skews toward the younger end of YA readers, and it’s a quick read.
I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley.