Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cracked Up to Be (Chapters 13 - 17): Discussion Post

Hi all!

Today, Crimson is here to talk some more Cracked Up to Be! Be sure to leave your comments below about this weeks chapters, and what you thought of them. We're getting close to the end, guys! Be sure to add your review (if you have one) to the main post here, and get excited to start Some Girls Are in October! I'll also be announcing the winners of the What Goes Around giveaway in the next couple of days so be on the look out for that. Without further ado!

The third section of CRACKED UP TO BE introduces yet another change in Parker, because a main character wouldn’t be good without a little development every now and then. And this time, Parker’s really laying it all out there. Jake (seems to think he) has it all figured out, calling Parker out for her “bravado” in chapter 13, which Parker doesn’t want to admit it to.

But even though Parker continues to keep herself away from other people, I feel like the nature of it changes now. In chapter 13, Parker does something you would think would be impossible for her judging from the beginning of the book—she apologizes to Jake. I know, crazy. Granted, she throws up right after she does it, so obviously the whole general experience is traumatizing for her. But we can recognize now that Parker’s entire disposition goes beyond just wanting to be cruel and standoffish to people. Like she tells Jake, she genuinely fucked up. Parker implicates herself in this whatever-happened-to-Jessie situation, and we can recognize now that Parker doesn’t just want to push herself away from other people, she feels like she has to. It’s punishment for whatever she thinks she did.

I tend to think of this as the moment when Parker proves she’s not this unlikeable, unsympathetic character. Jake’s right—it’s bravado, put on by a person so messed up by her past mistakes and what she sees as her possible implication in the disappearance of her best friend that she could be driven to (accidentally) try to kill herself.

I don’t think this revelation is shocking, after everything we know about Parker and what this book has been building up to. And while I don’t think conversations about did-she-or-didn’t-she particularly productive, I do wonder if it changes the way she’s viewed? I think we have this tendency to construct our own image of who a person is without letting them get any say in the matter, and often it takes something big or something jarring to shake that construct and allow something fuller, something realer to take its place.

And once that happens, everything starts to break down.

Parker’s world is starting to fall apart.

Evan shows up again. Parker seems to blame Evan a lot for what happened, and judging from his appearance, so does he. However, Evan and Parker handle the situation a lot differently. So what do you make of Evan?

And then what I think is the biggest breakdown so far—Parker cuts off her hair. Side note: one of the things I love the most about Courtney Summers’s writing is the way she presents things so simply—no fanfare, no explanations, no excuses. It just is what it is. The reader can make their own judgements.

So what’s the significance of this moment? In the beginning of the book we see Parker obsessively brushing her hair. She literally describes it as being unable to stop. So obviously hair is a pretty important aspect of how she shows this artificial perfection. When she cuts off her hair, it’s right after Evan comes back, and right after she loses the bracelet, the last connection she seems to have to Jessie. And since her plans to stay away from people don’t seem to be going the way she wanted them to, she has to do something drastic to get back on track. After her mom “fixes” her hair, Parker calls it “horrible,” and says that that’s “good, I guess.”

This is why Parker confuses me (and also why I think she’s a perfect (ha) protagonist). She keeps flipping back and forth, giving in a little and then pulling right back.
 What did you think about this weeks chapters? Comment below!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

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