|“||You don't have to be good to be perfect.||”|
— Quote of the Book
The Perfectionists is the first book of the book series of the same name, written by Sara Shepard. The book chronicles the story of five girls with nothing in common but a desire to strive for perfection. But to be perfect, one has to have a good alibi than to fall for a misplaced implication.
Back Cover Summary
Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker are all driven to be perfect—no matter the cost. At first, the girls think they have nothing in common until they discover that they all hate the same person: handsome womanizer Nolan Hotchkiss, who's done things to hurt each of them. They come up with the perfect plan to murder Nolan—jokingly, of course. They'd never actually go through with it. But when Nolan turns up dead in the exact way they'd discussed, the girls suddenly become prime suspects in his murder. Only, they didn't do it. So who did? Unless they find the real killer, and soon, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.
In Detail Summary
Parker, Ava, Caitlin, Julie, and Mackenzie are all at Nolan Hotchkiss' house for the biggest party of the year, only in their different social circles with their respective friends. All voice their distaste and hatred for Nolan, until Mackenzie gets a text from her new friend Caitlin. All five girls meet up after the text. Mackenzie can't believe they're going to do what they're going to do next. Caitlin asks if she's backing out, but Mackenzie and the other girls say no. They look at the crowd, where Nolan is greeting his guests heartily and already playing with girls' hearts. "Let's do this," Ava says as the five girls head towards Nolan.
The party continued to rage throughout the night. But the morning after, Nolan is discovered dead in the upper floor by a junior. EMTs and their respective ambulances, along with law enforcement arrive. Later, Nolan's parents arrive as well, but by then everyone in the town knows about Nolan's death, and it is assumed he died partying hard. The girls, however, are shocked - Julie's throat closed, Ava was in a state of denial, Mackenzie burst into tears while Caitlin felt sorry for his family, and Parker went to the docks to stare at the water.
Five days later, Parker arrived to school, frustrated and in disgust at the small acts of fakeness and perfection. Julie arrives, reminding Parker of the mandatory assembly in the auditorium. The two girls head to the auditorium, where Nolan's memorial is being held. The three other girls are present but sitting separately. They all share a look when Parker looks up at the presentation slides ahead, realizing this was also going to be a drug and bullying presentation. Parker is enraged that people are crying over Nolan's death despite everyone having hated him. After a wave of memories when she and Nolan were friends, she begins to experience another migraine. Julie, sensing what's wrong, takes her to the box office alcove to help clear her state of mind. She gives Parker some pills and recommends seeing a therapist. Parker doesn't want to, but Julie says she spoke with someone about her mom. Parker, realizing how serious she is, reluctantantly agrees. She heads out to her usual smoking place, but Mr. Granger finds her, noting he didn't take her for a smoker. Angered once more, she leaves, but not before feeling another migraine coming and mentally agreeing to see a therapist.
At the annual boys-girls varsity soccer match, Caitlin and her teamates are strategizing when Josh Friday, Caitlin's boyfriend, comes up behind her, interrupting Caitlin's focus. She thinks of how they've literally been together their whole lives, and how that continue into their future. She's snapped out of her thoughts when a teammate reminds her of her brother's death and overheard someone discussing the possibility that Nolan committed suicide. Ursula Winters, Caitlin's biggest rival, interjects and begins to badmouth Nolan, subliminally taunting Caitlin to speak up on how much she hated Nolan. Caitlin, having had enough of this conversation, loudly demands everyone to focus, and the game begins. However, Ursula steals the ball from Caitlin, who furiously trips her. She's barred from the game and leaves when Josh timidly approaches her to see how she's doing. When gazing through the windows of the computer lab her brother Taylor frequented, she demanded Josh to take her to the cemetery to visit her brother.
The book contains thirty-seven chapters, as well as an epigraph, prologue and a pre-chapter "Five days later" at the beginning of the book. At the back of the book, it contains an excerpt, prologue, and first two chapters from the sequel, The Good Girls.
With perfection comes pressure. Students here are some of the best in the country, and sometimes, they have to let off a little steam. What five girls don’t know, though, is that steam can scald just as badly as an open flame. - Excerpt
I mean, that's where you're going with this, aren't you? Just because we rattled off some names doesn't mean we have any control over them dying or going missing or whatever. - Caitlin to the other Perfectionists