Author: Rachel Joyce
Genre: Contemporary fiction, literary fiction
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher for tour with TLC Book Tours
Number of pages: 400
First line: In 1972, two seconds were added to time.
Goodreads blurb: On a foggy spring morning in 1972, twelve-year-old Byron Hemming and his mother are driving to school in the English countryside. On the way, in a life-changing two seconds, an accident occurs. Or does it? Byron is sure it happened, but his mother, sitting right next to him in the car, has no reaction to it. Over the course of the days and weeks that follow, Byron embarks on a journey to discover what really happened-or didn’t-that fateful morning when everything changed. It is a journey that will take him-a loveable and cloistered twelve-year-old boy with a loveable and cloistered twelve-year-old boy’s perspective on life-into the murkier, more difficult realities of the adult world, where adults lie, fathers and mothers fight without words, and even unwilling boys must become men. By the end, Byron will finally reconcile the dueling realities of that summer, a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit and the power of compassion.
I had a very emotional reaction to Perfect, and multiple emotions, at that. First of all, I felt so dreadfully sorry for poor Byron, a young boy placed in an impossible situation. He is carrying the weight of the world, the burdens of his entire family, on his shoulders, and is determined to make everything right – a truly impossible task.
I felt extreme anger at his father. His father was physically absent through most of the book, and yet was still a huge ominous presence, as the reader watches Byron’s mother try to make everything in their home and lives perfect for fear of upsetting her husband. In the meantime, Byron and his sister Lucy are being neglected. Actually, I was angry at most all of the adults in this book, as there were other neighborhood women who could have seen what was going on and intervened, but didn’t.
This is a heavy, hard book – beautifully written, but not a happy book. Even the ending, while giving a glimmer of hope, was bittersweet. Rachel Joyce is an extremely gifted writer, and while I didn’t love Perfect as much as I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I still highly recommend it.