"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Friday, January 24, 2014

Perfect by Rachel Joyce (the title speaks of destiny)

Author:  Rachel Joyce
Published:  January 7, 2014
Publisher:  Random House
Pages:  400
Genre:  General Fiction
Edition:  Hardcover
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  Receipt thereof bears no influence over my opinion nor this review.

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 mother’s 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, Byron’s 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 Joyce’s reputation as one of fiction’s brightest talents.

My Thoughts:

2014 looks to be the year to discover fabulous authors.  Perfect is the third book I've fallen in love with this year!!!  Short Leash by Janice Gary, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, and now the fabulous Perfect!  It's as if it was destined to be so, after all did you catch the title?

Perfect is the second novel by Rachel Joyce who soared to author famedom with her debut novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which I've yet to read).  It grabs your attention immediately and never lets go.  The story is initially revealed from the perspective of 11-year old Byron.  Alternate chapters tell the story of a middle age man, Jim, whose OCD and mental illness hinder him in almost every aspect of his life.  

If you've read Room by Emma Donaghue (or recall childhood, for that matter), as experienced by a fictional five year old, you'll understand how children read the nuances of life and relationships as it affects them, but they do not seem to have the ability to see another person's perspective.  It is with this innocent view we see the story unfold.

Byron's family appears to be the epitome of perfection.  They live in a big beautiful house, Byron's mother drives a luxury car, the children attend a private school. But all is not as it appears to be.  The event that happened one foggy summer morning on their way to school threatens it all.  Byron worries that his father will find out.  He worries about his mother.  Will the police come?  Is someone criminally responsible if they are unaware something terrible has happened and they are at fault?

Fear and trepidation weigh heavily upon Byron as he concerns himself over the difference an additional two seconds makes during a leap year.  A lot can happen in two seconds and what if those seconds never happened.  Would the event that altered his perceptions and changed his role from child to that of perceived protector for his mother have happened?

On the other hand, another life is fraught with mental health challenges.  Jim has struggled with depression and OCD for many years, and at the age of fifty he is trying to fit in.  He works at a supermarket where his job entails wiping down the tables and he's very good at keeping them clean.  At home, he has a ritual wherein he must greet inanimate objects and follow a particular routine.  If he doesn't, he fears something terrible will happen.  Routine and rituals keep his world together.

As Perfect progresses we gain an intimate insight into these two main characters.  Their lives seem so separate but they do converge and when they do it is in an unpredictable manner and nothing seems so perfect now.  

Joyce's ability to develop a scene, painting a picture complete with landscape, town life and flawed characters pulls the reader directly into the plot.  I was quite happy being there too.  If you enjoy JK Rowling, Mark Haddon, John Irving, to name a few, you will enjoy the world of Rachel Joyce.  In fact, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Perfect right now.  Fair warning, tissues may be essential to the experience.

Meet the Author:
Rachel Joyce is the author of the international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. She is also the award-winning writer of more than twenty plays for BBC Radio 4. She started writing after a twenty-year acting career, in which she performed leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company and won multiple awards. Rachel Joyce lives with her family on a Gloucestershire farm.
Connect with Rachel on her website,racheljoycebooks.com, or on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Yay for a great start to 2014! I hope you continue to find more authors to love as the month go by.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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