The Best Possible Answer
E. Katherine Kottaras
St. Martin’s Griffin
Available November 1, 2016
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When a panic attack lands Viviana in the hospital, her mother insists that she slow down and stop taking her studies so seriously. But even the thought of slowing down stresses Vivi out. She has summer engineering camp to attend! And SATs to prep for! And college applications to write! Everything has to go perfectly, no room for error. It’s the only way her dad will stop being disappointed in her and come home. And after her failure at school, the one involving Dean and that photo she sent him, Vivi needs something to go right.
But her mom won’t be swayed, so instead, Vivi ends up spending the summer with her best friend working at the community pool. At first it seems like a nice change of pace. But Vivi’s mistakes find her, even in her new quieter life. And she discovers that she’s not the only one who was hiding from the truth. Her father has a secret that could destroy the entire family.
I found it so easy to identify with driven, perfectionist Viviana. I loved her relationships with her mom and sister and the way her friendship with Sammie changed over the course of the story, too. It felt very real and authentic, exactly the kinds of changes relationships can go through in high school. I liked that Vivi’s family was so complex. I liked that her mom’s cancer was something they’d overcome together, and you could still see the shadow of it over them, but it didn’t define them as a family, or her mom as a character. Her mom surprised me. I kind of expected not to like her, and then as the story went on, you could really see the strength she possesses and how much Vivi gets that same strong character from her.
For me, The Best Possible Answer is another win for Kottaras. I loved it. Fans of Eleanor & Park might like it, even though the romance isn’t really a central component. I think Viviana shares a lot of the qualities that drew me to Eleanor.
Recommended for Ages 13 up.
Vivi’s mother is Russian and Jewish. Her best friend Sammie is Filipino. Viviana has been suffering panic attacks. A neighbor is schizophrenic.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used with moderate frequency.
While Vivi dated a boy named Dean, she sent him a picture of herself naked. After they broke up, he distributed the picture to the whole school. Vivi kisses another boy several times.
Vivi and a friend help a schizophrenic man. They also debate whether love exists. Her friend says yes, though Vivi’s less certain. Vivi’s friend Sammie follows horoscopes and believes they come true. Another friend says it’s bogus.
Vivi recalls a party years ago at which she drank a beer, her one and only ever. Later she and some friends go to a college dorm where some other kids have been drinking. They don’t associate much with anyone who’s been drinking though.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.