No Perfect Places
Published May 30, 2023
About No Perfect Places
From lauded author Steven Salvatore comes a YA about twins whose incarcerated father dies and leaves behind a life-changing secret.
When their father was imprisoned for embezzlement, twins Alex and Olly Brucke lost everything except their strong bond with each other. But after their dad dies unexpectedly, the twins start to fracture. Alex is spiraling, skipping classes to get drunk or high. Olly is struggling with a secret his dad ordered him to keep: they have a secret half-brother, Tyler.
So when Tyler shows up in their lakeside town for the summer, hoping to get to know his siblings, Olly hides the truth from Alex. But as Alex and Tyler start to form a friendship, the lies become harder to juggle. If they can’t confront their father’s past and fix their relationship, Olly and Alex each risk losing two siblings forever.
A thought-provoking novel about grief, family secrets, and figuring out how to belong against the odds.
Okay, so you know how there are just certain authors whose books just hit you deep? Steven Salvatore is one of those authors for me. I have loved all of their books so far, and I’m both delighted and unsurprised to say the same of NO PERFECT PLACES.
The relationship between siblings absolutely melted my heart. The wildly different experiences and feelings they each had for their father made perfect sense from each character’s perspective. Alex’s destructive grief was heartbreaking. As was the wreckage from Olly’s protective need to try to control everything.
And let’s not skip the romantic relationships because this, again, is something Salvatore does SO WELL. Olly and Khal have this great balance in their relationship. It’s not that things are perfect. It’s not even that they have their whole relationship figured out. They are always on the same side, though. I loved that. Alex has a whole rollercoaster-on-fire of romance, and while it hurt to read some of those scenes, I felt like they were so well done. As Alex begins to process her grief and process her feelings about herself, she begins to see the relationship in a different light. The change felt organic and had me cheering for her so hard.
I also want to say that the romantic storylines never stole the show. They were absolutely subplots, and they stayed in their lanes, so I felt like the story struck a great balance there.
Another thing (yes, more!) that Steven Salvatore does brilliantly well is how they present art within a story. In AND THEY LIVED, they told us the story of Chase’s college animation project.
In NO PERFECT PLACES, we get Olly’s journey of creating a short film to submit to a contest. The movie scene descriptions are great, and I loved how the final product echoed the themes of the larger story.
All in all, such a great book. I loved it so much. It’s the story of three siblings and their journey through a very particular kind of grief, and the community they build which helps them heal.
Content Notes for No Perfect Places
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Olly is gay and uses he/they pronouns. Alex uses drugs and alcohol to numb her grief. She also experiences domestic violence at the hands of a partner. Olly’s boyfriend is Iranian American and Muslim.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.
Boy/boy kissing and boy/girl kissing. References to sex, and some brief explicit statements about sex.
Brief references to Muslim faith. Alex and Olly both says “goddess,” as in “Oh my goddess.”
A man dies while denied access to medical care. Some scenes show domestic violence and emotional abuse in a relationship. A boy punches other characters and attacks them with few consequences. A girl punches a boy after he slaps her. In one scene, a girl overdoses and dies. A girl knees a boy in the groin after he tries to grab her.
Teens drink alcohol, smoke pot, and use other drugs in a few scenes. It’s shown in a way that highlights the destructiveness of the behavior. A girl dies of an accidental overdose.
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