Past Perfect Life


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?

Perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, this is the story of one teen's search for herself amid the confusion of a shattered past and a future far from all she planned.

Past Perfect Life is out now from Bloomsbury and available wherever books are sold.

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Reading Past Perfect Life for your book group? Click here for a discussion guide.


Click here to read an excerpt of Past Perfect Life.


"Past Perfect Life asks what happens when everything you thought you knew about your life turns out to be a lie. Eulberg thoughtfully captures one girl’s quest to reclaim her identity and to rebuild a family in the throes of betrayal. At turns funny and heartbreaking and romantic, this book will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. "
- Julie Buxbaum, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next

“Elizabeth Eulberg's PAST PERFECT LIFE is an unflinching and emotional look at the many ways families can fall apart and come back together. Through Ally's story, we are reminded that good friends, honest conversations, and hard truths can be the things that save us, and that love is messy, complicated, and always worth the effort. An excellent book.”
- Robin Benway, National Book Award-winning author of Far from the Tree and Emmy & Oliver

“This novel takes the self-identity trope and intensifies its scope, layering in the mature navigation of family relationships. An honest pace, salt-of-the-earth protagonist, and sympathetic, well-rounded characters…”
- Kirkus Reviews

“…riveting… Eulberg’s thought-provoking novel captures the devastating legacy of family lies.”
- Publishers Weekly

“Eulberg…shine[s] in her ability to aptly portray family as both imperfect and nebulous, while reminding readers that sometimes the truth of who you become is just as important as who you once were.”
- Booklist

“…once readers discover [Ally’s] new reality, they will race to the end of the story…. Readers looking for a quick yet compelling novel will want to add this to their summer beach bags.”
- School Library Journal

“Fans of The Deep End of the Ocean and other complex family dramas will tear through this brilliant contemporary.”
- B&N Teen Blog


The idea for Past Perfect Life came from a segment I saw on the news a couple years ago, about a teenage boy (and to avoid spoilers, I'll stop there!). At one point, a sheriff said something along the lines of, "Can you imagine finding out your entire life has been a lie?" Well...I couldn't get that thought out of my head. I started think a lot about personal history, identify, and above all, family. What would happen if one day you found out that everything you thought you knew about who you were and where you came from was wrong?

For over a year I thought about the character of Ally and what her circumstances would be. How that revelation would change her life. The original title for the book was Before/After as the book is really split into three sections: her life before, when everything crumbles down, and her life after.

I'll admit that this was the hardest book for me to write. I not only delved into darker territory for me, but it was the first time I had to get inside a truly broken and confused person's head. Oh, the crying that took place while working this book. It's a very different direction for me so I hope my wonderful readers will give it a chance and that I'll hopefully make some new readers (welcome!).