In a Perfect World: A Novel

In a Perfect World: A Novel

3.0 30
by Laura Kasischke

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In a Perfect World is critically acclaimed writer Laura Kasischke’s new novel of marriage, motherhood, and the choices we make when we have no choices left. Kasischke, the author of The Life Before Her Eyes, tells the story of Jiselle, a young flight attendant who’s just settled into a fairy tale life with her new husband and stepchildren


In a Perfect World is critically acclaimed writer Laura Kasischke’s new novel of marriage, motherhood, and the choices we make when we have no choices left. Kasischke, the author of The Life Before Her Eyes, tells the story of Jiselle, a young flight attendant who’s just settled into a fairy tale life with her new husband and stepchildren. But as a mysterious new illness spreads rapidly throughout the country, she begins to realize that her marriage, her stepchildren, and their perfect world are all in terrible danger . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Poet and novelist Kasischke finds beauty amid the apocalypse in her timely seventh novel. The Phoenix flu is sweeping the world, causing mass hysteria, arousing profound paranoia and inciting anti-American hatred worldwide. Jiselle, 32, is a jaded flight attendant and perpetual bridesmaid who says, “I do,” when handsome pilot Capt. Mark Dorn, a widower, offers her a vision of a perfect Midwestern family life far from her humdrum job and the dangers of the pandemic. The glitch is Mark's three minor children, who view Jiselle with derision, pity or outright hostility despite her best efforts to mother them. After the flu threat detains Mark overseas for months and then strikes close to home, Jiselle and her stepchildren must redefine their idea of family, community and their understanding of perfection and happiness. As their prospects of survival dwindle, the nascent family's fragile ties grow stronger. Kasischke's penchant for disconcerting but absorbing fiction is on display, as is her facility with language. Startling, sometimes violent images combine with strikingly dispassionate narration to create a fictional world where terror, beauty and chaos walk hand in hand. (Oct.)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Laura Kasischke teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan. A winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, she has published eight collections of poetry and ten novels, three of which have been made into films, including The Life Before Her Eyes.

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In a Perfect World 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
RBDM More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the start of the book and like the characters. However as the story went on, it began to fall short. With a flu epidemic going on, there should have more to write about. With Jiselle's husband gone in Germany, there should have been more than phone calls that stopped happening. What happened to him? Did he fall to the flu too or do we guess he ran away and married another woman? Does he care nothing of his kids? How do the kids accept his being gone without any mention of missing him? And then it appears that there may be a romance brewing with the friend who helps her out with home projects. Only he just walks away after his son dies, and we are left with nothing. The author could have done so much more with this story as the events and characters were there waiting for her to do so. The ending was terrible. To end with the title, that it is an to a perfect world, I am not sure if the author forgot that the life they were living was in no means perfect, and prior to the last sentence it appears that there may have been hope of a better future. I felt this author just gave up on this book and tried to find a way to finish it. However, it was left unfinished and disappointing. I will not read another book by this author, nor recommend her.
DudleyS More than 1 year ago
In many respects, I enjoyed reading this book. Each day I looked forward to "reading time", so that I could pick up the book and see what happened next. Unfortunately, this author quickly takes you directly to the peak of the book, holds you there the entire book and then just ends the book without really wrapping anything up. The ending would have been fine if the author had slowly built the story adding layer upon layer to get to the peak, created a sense of resignation and then ended the book. As it was, at the end I put the book down and literally thought "Are you kidding me?". Ugg! Another difficulty with this book was the lack of character development. The character's where well defined when they were introduced and you sensed that there was a transformation going on, because based on the circumstances the characters had to transform. However, the author failed to provide dialogue or actions that painted the changing picture for the reader. The storyline itself is very interesting and had great potential. I think with more time and more critical eyes reading this prior to publication, this could have been a fantastic book.
kirstinmary More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your time. This is worst example of "professional" writing I have ever experienced. My first issue is that she noted a celebrity that had died from the flu epidemic, Britnery Spears - I found it rude and insulting to use an acutual living persons name.... She could have called her Bethany Squire, a Pop icon on the level of Britney Spears. Secondly, the author can't even keep track of what she has written. Example, during a power outage she and her step-son are listening to the radio to get an update (obviously this is a battery operated radio, there is NO power). Not 10 pages later the other children set out to find a radio , they don't even know if they own one that used batteries! I can't even finish this book it is so horrible.
lreedbooks More than 1 year ago
This was a silly book. It was an easy read and I hoped that the ending would redeem the book but was dissapointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't really care for this book as a whole. It had some ok parts but wasn't really as advertised in that it's supposed to be a 'distopian' type novel. It was mostly back story on the main character's life and the parts that were about the plauge were, for the most part, based on rumor with no real explanation at all. And don't get me started on the ending, if you can even call it that, I was hoping for a lot more closure after all the tedious story telling. All in all I was pretty disappointed and if you're a fan of books like 'The Hunger Games' this book will leave you feeling like you wasted your time.
sassypickle More than 1 year ago
"Depressing tale with no ending" pretty much sums it up. Plot starts out promising but turns bizarre and falls flat. Characters are uninteresting and, for the most part, seem to lack personalities. Ending was somewhat abrupt and left me with more questions than answers, though I suppose one can speculate about how the story might have continued.
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twerpazoid More than 1 year ago
The possibilty of becoming bored loomed throughout the first half of the book and was disappointing after reading Walls, The Glass Castle. I always try to imagine what the book would be like as a movie - I don't feel Perfect World cuts it. However, there are some saving graces as Wall's touching insight into characterizations unfolds. I would read another of her novels with some reservation. Could be a good novel to study in a freshman reading/literature class. The characters are worth studying.
Inlibrislibertas More than 1 year ago
In A Perfect World was well-written and held my interest to the end. I particularly liked the way the author used a subplot, while in the beginning appears to be the main topic of the book, but is actually just the context on which the real focus of the book is built. However, I did not like the ending of the book. The author did not end the story, but seemed more to have just stopped writing. The author left me with too many unanswered questions about the fate the characters. I definitely would like to have learned more. Perhaps that was the author's intent, to leave you wanting more.
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Lou44 More than 1 year ago
The story moved slowly. I skipped a lot of the details. The characters, even when being difficult, were like-able, but I wanted to nudge them into action. I would reccomend this to friends, with reservation.
oldeagle More than 1 year ago
The main character marries a man with 3 children and becomes a stay at home Mom. The two teenagers are obnoxious and the husband is rarely home. Hold on, it gets worse. Not sure why I finished it, but I will not read this author again.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
The first third of this book is spent setting up the characters. Jiselle starts off as sort of one-dimensional. She falls in love with Mark Dorn and eventually quits her job to care for his three children. As a pilot, he is rarely home and as an ex-flight attendant, Jiselle is well aware of how such a career works. However, she becomes frustrated by his long absences and spend a lot of her time remembering how it used to be. In the mean time, the Phoenix Flu has hit. Celebrities are dropping like flies and panic has set in. To top it all off, Mark is detained and unable to return home so Jiselle is suddenly a single-parent. The end of the world as we know it, is a scary thing to ponder. If you've ever experienced a natural disaster first-hand, you can sort of appreciate, on a smaller scale, the kind of chaos that is possible. For example, when I was in the big Northridge did not occur to me that gasoline would be scarce. I mean, there are pumps everywhere, right? True, but when there is no electricity those pumps don't work. Nor do ATMs or credit card machines, so if you're without cash when the big one hits, then you're up the creek without a paddle. This book is sort of like that. Kasischke reminds you that food is scarce, that gasoline is at a premium and that medication is a luxury. As you follow along, you realize just how precious that torn scrap of paper is, or that empty plastic bag. As the characters are slowly stripped of their possessions, what remains is a simplicity.a quietness that is somehow comforting. A simple meal, a game of charades, conversation by candlelight.these are things we typically do not appreciate in the fast-paced world we live in today. What I found particularly shocking was the author's use of actual celebrities within the storyline. This put a 2009 "stamp" on it and made it all the more real. Additionally, the pandemic storyline strikes a little too close to home. In the book, the Phoenix flu loosely resembles the Avian flu but with H1N1 raging all around us, its hard not consider the similarities. Reading about the end of the world is not pleasant and Kasischke does not paint a pretty picture but the novel is very thought-provoking and there are moments of quiet beauty. I found it to be very visual in the telling. A book club would have a lot to discuss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a classic, if something can be a classicc that has only just been published. The whole book is just shimmery and creepy fairytale. But I recommend it mostly to those who like their books on the strange side...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I keep reading this book, b/c I have read in many reviews that it is hard to get into, but eventually, it turns into this great and gripping story that you cannot put down...I'm still waitng and I'm nearly 3/4 finished with it. Very dissapointed.