Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mixed Review: Past Perfect

Past Perfect
by Leila Sales

The Short Story
Chelsea wants to spend her summer working at the mall and eating delicious ice cream with her best friend, instead of working at the colonial village her family has been employed by forever. Instead, she spends another summer donning colonial garb, trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend, and planning out a war with the local Civil War reenactment camp. When she ends up crossing paths with one of the Civil Warriors, her summer turns very differently than she expected.
This had a lot of potential but never really took off for me.

What I liked:
The characters were fun and had a lot of personality. Chelsea almost felt abrasive, but only for the first 5 or 10 pages. Then I really started to enjoy her. Her summer ambition is to become an ice cream connoisseur with her best friend, Fiona, so she can't be that bad, right? One of my favorite things was the time devoted to their job at the colonial reenactment village. I've never been to one but I think it would be sort of nerdily cool. And I've always wondered what those Disney princesses/colonial reenactors are really thinking when they get the same questions over and over, so this gave some funny insight. There's one part where a little girl asks Chelsea which American Girl doll she is, that I especially liked.

There's also a nice introduction to the idea that the past is only what we remember, and not necessarily everything that happened. Including that made my little history major heart happy, even if it was done with a bit of a heavy hand.

Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • I could never really get into the war between the Colonial reenactment village and the Civil War one. Why did they have to hate each other? It didn't seem like there was much at stake (unlike in Jellicoe Road, where there's sort of a similar thing going on). Since I didn't buy the war, I had a very hard time feeling like there was any reason for Chelsea not to be involved with Dan. It all felt a little contrived to me, and that's a bad thing for the central conflict of the book.
  • I still don't get what the cover has to do with anything. I don't recall any specific rainy scenes, or hair flowers, or green coats. The tag line is even more of a head-scratcher.

The Big Three:
Language: I don't remember this being an issue
Sex and Stuff: some kissy scenes
Violence: some pushing and shoving


  1. I soooo agree about not understanding the war! It made me roll my eyes the whole time, and I think it's the main reason I didn't really get into the book. I did adore Chelsea's aspirations to be an ice cream connoisseur--a girl after my own heart :)

    1. Yeah, I wanted to like this one, but it stayed kind of "meh" the whole time. And maybe sometime we should have book club at an ice cream place. I would totally go for that. :)

  2. So, they just slapped on the cover, huh? I hate that! It sounds kinda cute but I agree that if the central conflict didn't really make sense, is it worth the read?

    1. Hmm.. I think you could find other books that would be more worth your time. It's a short read, but I don't know how much you'd like it.

  3. I haven't read this one yet but I already see your point. You would think that two historical reenactment villages would get along quite well. I think a lot of belief suspension is required in this one and considering I don't like to read too much into my book, I think I'll like this as a quick and easy read.

    1. It's definitely a quick, easy read. And the characters were interesting. They were just kind of stuck in a less than believable story. But if you don't expect too much I'd bet you'll like it just fine. :)

  4. I'm sad you didn't like this one more. I heard so many awesome things about it around it's release and I actually added it to my TBR because of them. Not all books are for everyone, though :]

    P.S. I really like the cover, still :P