Finding Perfect - Elly Swartz

To Molly Nathans, perfect is:

• The number four
• The tip of a newly sharpened number two pencil
• A crisp, white pad of paper
• Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines

What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are often broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with table cloths. Molly’s sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?

But as time goes on, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control.


There is so much to love here. An endearing protagonist who is trying so hard to control everything, even though we know she won't be able to, and yet we cheer for her and despair with her every step of the way. There are well-rounded secondary characters with flaws and realistic amounts of love and charisma to share with Molly. Even more impressive than the style, characters, and narrative arc is the fact that this is Elly Swartz's debut novel. I am continually impressed with the fabulous debut works entering into the Middle Grade and Young Adult market.

This book should be a part of public and school library collections and should be shared with those who have an interest in reading about not only genuinely engaging characters, but also a protagonist who is working through her own issues with OCD. Her portrayal is sympathetic and moving, giving readers a glimpse into the harsh realities of living with OCD.

Join Molly as she works to bring her mom back home and win the poetry contest, and realize that not everything in life is up to her to control.

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