Love In The Time Of Colonial Reenactments: ‘Past Perfect’ by Leila Sales

If you’ve ever been to any sort of historical reenactment, like at Colonial Williamsburg or a Renaissance Faire, you’ve probably wondered about the reenactors themselves. At least, I definitely have (because I’m nosy and have a wandering mind). What are their normal lives like? What do they do when they aren’t making candles in historically accurate ways? And aren’t they really, really hot under all that clothing?

In Past Perfect by Leila Sales, we get a glimpse into the lives of historical reenactors at Essex Historical Colonial Village. Chelsea’s been working summers there with her parents ever since she can remember, and she’s looking forward to spending some time away from Ezra, the ex-boyfriend who totally broke her heart. Essex is the perfect escape; not only is Chelsea in another century, but she even takes on a new name, Elizabeth Connelly. But it turns out that not even the past (or the fake past, I guess) is safe from heartbreak…this summer, Ezra’s working at Essex, too.

Obviously, being around her ex all the time is going to make getting over him a little more difficult. But Chelsea’s got other things on her mind, too. Essex isn’t the only historical reenactment in town…in fact, there’s a Civil War reenactment across the street. Instead of banding together in history geek bliss, the two camps spend most of their time engaged in a war. So what happens when Chelsea finds herself falling for one of the Civil War dudes?

I’ll tell you what happens! ROMANCE! I hope you’re imagining me doing jazz hands right now, because I totally am. Dan may be from the wrong time period, but he’s also a total babe. He and Chelsea get along great and even have a sexy moment on a trampoline (I didn’t think I’d ever type those words, but whatever, it feels right), but can Chelsea pull herself out of the past and focus on the present?


-Chelsea and her BFF Fiona spend their free time becoming ice cream connoisseurs and rating the scoops they try. This sounds like an excellent idea and I just might have to steal it.

-A lot of what Past Perfect focuses on (besides trampoline make-outs, obviously) is not getting stuck in the past. Essex is a pretty metaphorical setting for Chelsea, who just can’t give up on her old relationship with Ezra even when there’s a new, dreamy dude right in front of her. Past Perfect also touches on how we tend to romanticize the past, even when it wasn’t actually all that great to begin with.

-If you love Past Perfect, you’ll be happy to know that Leila Sales recently came out with another book. This Song Will Save Your Life is getting a ton of buzz, and if it’s anything like Past Perfect, I’m sure it’s fantastic.

What about you guys? Have you read Past Perfect? Do you wish you could hang out at Essex? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.