Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfect; Rachel Joyce

Perfect; Rachel Joyce
Random House - 2014

After falling in love with Rachel Joyce's debut novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I was anxious to try PERFECT. The protagonist of this story is eleven-year old Byron Hemmings.

One foggy morning in the summer of 1972, Bryon's mother is driving him to school at Winston House, and something terrible happens.  It's an event which deeply affects Bryron and yet for some reason his mother does not even seem to notice what has happened. Byron feels in some way to blame, as he was the one who distracted his mother by wanting her to look at his watch, believing time was going in reverse.

As weeks pass and no discussion takes place about what had occurred, Bryon is at a loss of what to do or how to bring up the subject with his mother. Is it possible that his mother, Diana, is not even aware of what has happened? Yet for some reason she seems to be changing before his very eyes. She takes up an unlikely friendship with the one woman she probably should be avoiding. Does she really realize what has happened and is this her way of dealing with her guilt?  One thing is sure Bryon's "perfect" world as he knew if is shattered. 

Bryon, an unpopular young boy, finds comfort discussing what has happened with his one friend James. Unfortunately, his friend James soon seems to be experiencing some troubles of his own. Anxiety, rituals and fear of other people soon separate the two boys as James is institutionalized.

Told in split narrative through Byron as a young boy and later James as a grown man, it is clear early on that their stories are somehow entwined. Diana was also a central character, a woman with much internal conflict. She was quite complex and interesting.   Her husband Seymour, who played a small part, was a piece of work. The story was cleverly written and compelling yet very different from Rachel Joyce's debut novel. I loved the descriptions of the British countryside, but the details of James sad situation were especially difficult and was sad listen to at times.

Paul Rhys narrated the audio version and did a very good job.

4/5 stars

15 comments:

  1. I was seeing this around for a bit and added it to my wish list. I must check the author out at some point period.

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  2. You've got me wondering what happened when she was taking him to school.

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  3. I honestly could not get into this one. I kept thinking this book is way too smart for me and way overhead my head. Glad you were able to enjoy it.

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  4. I want to read/listen to this! Loved your review, Diane.

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  5. It was a really different story from Harold Fry but still had that same storytelling feel to it.

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  6. Intriguing review. You've got me interested.

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  7. Huh. I wasn't thinking this would be quite so sad.

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  8. I can't halo but wonder what happened. I loved Harold Fry - I think this one might be worth a read, too.

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  9. I listened to the audio (while shoveling snow). I liked the complexity of the characters and the layered stories.

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  10. I loved Harold Frye... will add this to my audio wish list.

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  11. I missed the opportunity to get the ARC, I didn't recognize the author's name right away, but when I did, it was too late. I did just snag a library copy though.

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  12. I've heard such great things about this book. I still haven't read the author's other book, but I have it in my TBR.

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  13. I started this right before my MIL got sick and passed, and have not gone back to it yet. I plan to and am glad you enjoyed the book.

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  14. I am only halfway through this one. But so far, I love it. Rachel Joyce writes really well and I find it hard to put this book down.

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  15. It certainly sounds intriguing, I'm wondering what happened in the car. I may add this to my wish list.

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