Ally Smith loves her life in small-town Wisconsin. After moving around with her father for most of her childhood, Ally is thrilled that they landed in a place where she can feel at home surrounded by friends who are more like family.
She knows that things are going to change soon since she’s a senior in high school but that still feels far away–especially when figuring out if she and her friend Neil are still just friends or becoming something more seems much more urgent.
Ally isn’t sure what to do when she finds out that everything she thought she knew about her perfectly ordinary life has been a lie. Ally’s past isn’t what she’s been told. Her family isn’t what she thought. In fact, her name isn’t even Allison–it’s Amanda.
With her old life blown apart, Ally has to figure out how she can fit herself into this strange new life. And if she even wants to try in Past Perfect Life (2019) by Elizabeth Eulberg.
Eulberg’s latest standalone novel veers into mystery and suspense territory with a plot reminiscent of Caroline B. Cooney’s classic The Face on the Milk Carton.
While Past Perfect Life could have become sinister, the story manages to stay upbeat thanks to the vast support system that Ally has around her while her world begins to fall apart. With everything changing, she finds comfort in old friends and new family both in Wisconsin and her new home in Tampa, Florida.
Ally’s first person narration complements the tension of the plot as she learns the truth about her life although the novel’s slow pacing diminishes some of the impact as readers begin to understand the truth about Ally’s family and her past. Well-drawn characters shift the story from black and white to morally ambiguous grey as Ally and readers try to understand what happened and who should be blamed (or forgiven).
Past Perfect Life is a surprisingly gentle story about found family, embracing the messy parts of your past, and learning who you are. Recommended for readers who want a thriller with less nail biting and more friendship and romance.
Possible Pairings: The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando, The Last Forever by Deb Caletti, The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney, Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*