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  • Posted January 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Powerful, Dark

    Strangely unique, or brilliantly twisted drama that slowly unfolds, crumb by crumb to leave me speechless, Perfect by Rachel Joyce doesn’t fit neatly into a prescribed genre and I love authors who color outside the lines with bold strokes! Scientists have decided that there must be two seconds added to time, no big deal, right? But for young Byron, those two seconds were enough time to have his life slowly implode around him, mentally overpowering his sense of well-being and ease. But were these two seconds the cause or merely the straws that finally broke the camel’s back? Were there events in Byron’s life that could have been avoided if those two seconds never existed? They have become his obsession, and festering thought that leaves holes in the fabric of the ma he was to become. Could anyone see this coming or was he adrift in a world that had its own problems, from his nervous and medicated mother to his absent and cold father? The only person Byron could count on for wisdom was his best friend, James, another child, better adjusted, more daring and fascinated by life’s twists, unlike Byron, who saw darkness in everything.

    Dark and edgy, Perfect takes the reader spiraling down the path that is Byron’s life, one step at a time, as seen through his eyes with his limited understanding. Imagine learning that people will deceive, they will take and take until there is nothing left, they will misunderstand, and you have nowhere to go for your safe haven, no rock to lean on in a world far beyond your understanding.

    Rachel Joyce draws the reader in with each word, each scene, each event, making no apologies for holding you captive in an uncomfortable situation. Well written, well-paced, dramatic reading!

    I received an ARC edition in exchange for my honest review from Random House Publishing Group - Random House

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2014

    ┬┐Sometimes it is easier, he thinks, to live out the mistakes we

    “Sometimes it is easier, he thinks, to live out the mistakes we have made than to summon the energy and imagination to repair them”

    Perfect is the second novel by bestselling British author, Rachel Joyce. In the heat of the 1972 English summer, Byron Hemmings, an intense and thoughtful eleven-year-old boy, is worried. His best friend (and the smartest boy in school), James Lowe has told him two seconds are to be added to time. He understands it is necessary, but can’t shake a feeling of terror. When those two seconds appear to result in a car accident involving Diana Hemmings’ perfect Jaguar, Byron worries incessantly about the consequences and, despite his best efforts to follow the meticulous plans James makes, his known universe begins to unravel. 

    Joyce uses two narrators to tell her story: young Byron relates the events of that 1972 summer; Jim, a man in his fifties whose life is governed by rituals, intersperses his narration of his present day life (currently being disrupted by a red-headed cook uttering profanities) with memories of earlier times and how he came to live most of his life in a mental institution. These narratives approach a common point, gradually revealing the summer’s tragic conclusion.   

    Joyce renders the feel of the seventies summer and the present day winter with great skill. Her descriptive prose is often breathtaking: “The sun was not yet fully risen and, caught in the low weak shaft of light, the dew shone silver over the meadow although the crust of earth beneath was hard and cracked. The ox-eye daisies made white pools on the lower hills while every tree sprang a black leak away from the sun’s light. The air smelt new and green like mint” and “A flock of gulls flew east, rising and falling, as if they might clean the sky with their wings” and  “With a clutter of wings a flock of starlings lifts into the air, unravelling and lengthening like black ribbon” are just a few samples.

    Her characters are appealing and the reader cannot help having sympathy for their situation: Diana’s feelings of inadequacy, Byron’s need to protect his beloved mother (“Like a splinter in his head, the truth was always there, and even though he tried to avoid it by being careful, sometimes he forgot to be careful and there it was”), Jim’s attempts to be normal (“No one knows how to be normal, Jim. We’re all just trying our best. Sometimes we don’t have to think about it and other times it’s like running after a bus that’s already halfway down the street.”) Byron’s anxiety is palpable and Joyce portrays mental conditions like depression and OCD with both insight and humour. 

    She gives her characters words of wisdom: “They’re playing with us, aren’t they?.....The gods. We think we understand, we’ve invented science, but we haven’t a clue. Maybe the clever people are not the ones who think they’re clever. Maybe the clever people are the ones who accept they know nothing” and “Sometimes caring for something already growing is more perilous than planting something new”. On more than one occasion, the reader may well be moved to tears. Fans of Joyce’s work will not be disappointed and newcomers will want to seek out her other books. A moving and uplifting read. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2014


    Amazing! I enjoyed Harold Fry enormously....this was better, I think. And think I will be a long time before Perfect leaves my thoughts!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Caroline to kevin

    Im here if you want to talk. i am not going to force you... but i hope you know that i only came back because of how much i love you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Well written and insightul. Thought provoking!

    A great read that will make you stop and think.

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  • Posted March 4, 2014

    It would be hard to think of a better name for this book, for Ra

    It would be hard to think of a better name for this book, for Rachel Joyce's Perfect was, in fact, practically perfect. It was a beautifully written, evocative exploration of the power of magical thinking, the nature of friendship, and the unanticipated consequences of mistakes.

    The story is told in alternating chapters occurring in 1972 and today. I can't say much more without revealing a significant plot twist; suffice it to say that this structure successfully kept the tension at a steady boil until the very end. In this respect, Perfect should appeal to readers who enjoyed Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, even though the subject matter of the two books is very different.

    I loved the "hook" of the added two seconds. The prologue immediately captured my attention and drew me into the lives of Byron, Diana, and James. Those considering this book will, therefore, be able to tell immediately from the sample on Amazon or Barnes & Noble whether they will enjoy it.

    Joyce was able to capture key aspects of each character's personality in concise visual images. Had she written only the following two lines about Byron's father, I would have known all I needed to know:

    "He nodded the way his father did when he was stating a fact, as if he was so correct even his own head had to agree."

    "If Byron ever tried to hug him, and sometimes he wished he could, the embrace ran away at the last minute and became a handshake."

    Can't you just see that embrace running away? Here is Byron during a conversation with James:

    "Every time he began a sentence he was afraid the wrong words would escape from his mouth. Consequently he had to keep examining them on their way out, as if he was checking their hands for cleanliness. It was exhausting."

    From these three short sentences, I learned a great deal about Byron's self-esteem, his relationship with his best friend James, and the "perfect" life led in Cranham House.

    I did not realize before I began reading Perfect that it was written by the same author who wrote The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I will certainly be seeking out that book in the near future.

    I received a free copy of Perfect through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Perfect certainly made an impact right from the start. It's been

    Perfect certainly made an impact right from the start. It's been a while since the beginning of a novel has so fiercely grabbed my attention.

    I felt fully invested in these characters, most notably Jim and Byron's mother. I was taken aback by the Hemmings' entire world, the way the people in their social circle behaved. And I have to say, getting to know Byron's mother through his eyes was sometimes downright painful.

    Something that really struck me was how the title, that word perfect, carried different meanings at various points throughout the novel. Whether it was the stress of trying to be (or at least appear) perfect, or learning that what seems perfect oftentimes isn't, Joyce pulls back layer after layer behind the depth of this single word.

    There are two stories running parallel, but I had no idea exactly where things were headed or how everything would play out. I didn't expect the ending at all and when the two stories met, I was overwhelmed by the profundity.

    Joyce's writing drew me in; it felt good to read her words. The story flowed naturally and I had trouble putting the book down. I can't wait to read more of her work.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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