Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
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***Being Perfect

by Anna Quindlen

Reviewed May 12, 2005.
Random House, New York, 2005.  48 pages.

Being Perfect would make a nice graduation gift.  Anna Quindlen talks about how when she graduated from high school, she tried to be perfect.  “If there was a test to be taken, I had studied for it; if there was a paper to be written, it was done.  I smiled at everyone in the hallways because it was important to be friendly, and I made fun of them behind their backs because it was important to be witty.”

As life went on she learned.  “Being perfect was hard work, and the hell of it was, the rules kept changing.”

She has advice for the reader:  “So if this sounds in any way familiar to you, if you have been trying to be perfect, too, then perhaps today is the day to put down that backpack before you develop permanent curvature of the spirit.”

She talks about how being perfect is an exercise in imitating other people.  “But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations.  What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

This is really only an essay written by a talented essayist.  But the subject is important enough to be worth making into a beautiful little book, illustrated with old-fashioned black-and-white pictures of people in all their wondrous variety, being themselves.

Reviews of other books by Anna Quindlen:
Loud and Clear
Imagined London
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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