Emma feels jealous, inadequate, and alone. To make it worse, she feels like she can’t talk about her feelings with anyone. Instead, she has outbursts and treats everyone harshly. She is guarded and defensive, causing the distance between her and her family and friends to grow and grow. This affects her social life, her family life, and her role on the All-Star basketball team. Then, Emma’s guardian spirit appears in the form of a cute french bulldog called Lexi. Lexi seems to be an ordinary dog to everyone, except Emma, who she can talk with. With Lexi’s help, Emma slowly learns how to open up, share her feelings, and get close with others again.
No Such Thing as Perfect is a well-written book addressing perfectionism, jealousy, and the power of communication. The author beautifully exemplifies the complexity of these feelings. The reactions and responses of Emma and the people she struggles with feel realistic, common, and relatable. I recognize many of the scenes and characters from my own life. All of the characters feel like real people. Some of the characters are understanding and forgiving of Emma’s bad behavior; others aren’t. The author does a great job of showing the inability to express yourself. Many characters wanted to say something and, as a reader, I could see how difficult it was for them. When Emma learns how to talk through her feelings with others and discovers that others have been experiencing similar issues, she feels better, like she’s not alone. Seeing these feelings and thoughts in a book character can give an almost cathartic feeling to the reader. The acceptance of her family and friends when Emma finally expresses herself gives her the freedom to let go of her perfectionism and be herself. This sentiment may encourage readers to talk through their feelings with their loved ones. Overall, the story has a serious tone and covers serious matters. However, the guardian spirit adds a bit of humor, creating a pleasant balance.
Visually, this book is cute and appealing. The art style carries a lighter tone than the topics and feelings addressed, making the story more digestible. The colors, soft lines, and big eyes provide a welcoming atmosphere for the reader. Facial expressions and movement are clearly conveyed. The guardian spirits’ animals have hearts in their fur patterns, which I think was a beautiful connection to their roles. There is a broad range of dress styles represented. Each character has their own style and many fun outfits throughout the book. There is a large representation of different skin tones and hair colors. However, I feel that the author should have included even more skin tones and hair types, especially considering that this story takes place in diverse New York City. This book is appropriate for people aged 9-14, especially those struggling with perfectionism, those interested in basketball, and those learning to manage relationships.
Bounce Back, vol 2: No Such Thing as Perfect
By Misako Rocks!
Feiwel and Friends, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 9-13
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)