by Rachel Joyce

Overview: A spellbinding novel that will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving, Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, difficult realities of the adult world with far-reaching consequences.

Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his motherís heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.

What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byronís perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .

As she did in her debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce has imagined bewitching characters who find their ordinary lives unexpectedly thrown into chaos, who learn that there are times when children must become parents to their parents, and who discover that in confronting the hard truths about their pasts, they will forge unexpected relationships that have profound and surprising impacts. Brimming with love, forgiveness, and redemption, Perfect will cement Rachel Joyceís reputation as one of fictionís brightest talents.

Faith Bowers (09/23/18): I remember enjoying The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry but I didnít remember much about the book. So I was happy to read her second novel, Perfect. I donít really know whether I liked this story. I found it very disturbing on many levels but I certainly wonít forget it.

There are two stories, 1972 in tandem with the story 40 years later in 2012. They could have kept them separate instead of the back and forth because they didnít break up that much suspense and for me there was always the early story and then the current story line. I might say this was very literary, especially for the 1972 because as much that is written, half the story is unwritten and therefore would make an excellent discussion in a book club setting. Byronís parents both had psychological issues and how much was of the time. Jamesí parents were more rigid though that is only hinted at. What exactly is Beverly after besides seeing the rich home of Dianaís. And how come Seymour secluded them and what good did that do? Control was an ongoing theme.

The 2012 story was an awakening for Jim, as he was forced out of his home, many times and this time was final. I look forward to hearing other readersí opinions of this book.
Rating: ***

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