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Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg
Young adult

Past Perfect Life

by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Quick take

Think you know your family? Allison thought life with Dad was perfect—until she discovered his shocking past.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama


Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is—spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.

But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s—make that Amanda’s—ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?

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Free sample

Check out a preview of Past Perfect Life.
Past Perfect Life

Chapter One

Describe a significant event in your life and how it has influenced you.

Seriously? I can't believe that years of hard work, studying, and planning has come down to having to answer these kinds of questions.

Okay. I can do this. I've written fifteen hundred words on how prehistoric drawings influenced how we communicate today. I can certainly wrangle up something about myself to persuade a scholarship committee to give me money.

No pressure or anything.

What do they even mean by "significant"? I'm seventeen. Getting a huge pimple right before class photos is a major life event. Being called on it in class when you don't know the answer is a big deal. Let's be real: when our small town got a second screen added to the movie theater, it was front-page news for weeks. So my idea of significant might be a tad underwhelming to anyone else.

I get they probably mean something truly momentous. That right there is the problem. I have a pretty quiet life. I do really well in school and stay out of trouble. My life is the opposite of significant. It's ... my life.

I live in the tiny town of Valley Falls, Wisconsin. Nothing here really changes, and I like that. Dad and I had lived in five different cities before we finally settled here eight years ago. It's a great life, but that doesn't help me answer this essay question.

Has my existence truly been unremarkable?

Seventeen years and nothing to show for it.

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Why I love it

When it comes to reading YA contemporary, I crave something cute, but with substance. And on this, I know that Elizabeth Eulberg is always going to deliver. Her well-developed characters, relatable emotions, and sweet romances draw me right into a book’s world—and make it so I never want to leave.

Ally is a small-town girl with a devoted father and a small but wonderful group of friends. Her biggest problem? She’s got nothing noteworthy to include in her college application essays—that is, until an application detects an invalid social security number, and Ally discovers that she’s not who she thought she was. Soon her world is turned upside down as she comes to terms with the lies of her past and her new normal.

Ally’s emotional journey, told through Eulberg’s completely addictive writing, compelled me to keep turning the pages. I was moved by her deep friendships, developing romance, and the challenges her family faced. I didn’t mean to finish this book in one day, but that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t put it down, and I don’t think you’ll be able to either.

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Member ratings (461)

  • nyla r.

    New Castle, PA

    oh my god, i couldn’t put it down. it was such a good book, i’m not sure if it’s for everyone but for me it was perfect, it wasn’t to long but still had a great storyline. definitely a new favorite!<3

  • Mallory R.

    Waterford, MI

    I was enthralled by this book! It started off a little slow, but then once the plot started to fill with suspense I didn’t want to stop reading until I finished. I fell in love with all the characters

  • Elizabeth G.

    Dallas, TX

    This was a great book! My favorite part was definitely NEIL, but I loved how it made me think about how both sides of the issue were feeling, as well as about how I would react in the same situation.

  • Lillian G.

    Ventnor, NJ

    “Perfect Past Life” follows 17 year old high school senior Ally Smith. She has her whole life planned out, but when the life she knows is shattered, she must learn to adapt to her new found life.

  • Tammy A.

    National City, MI

    I loved this book! It was in a perspective of a kidnapping that I’d never thought of before. I was in the characters’ heads and most of the time had a lump in my throat. That’s great writing!

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