In a Perfect World [NOOK Book]

Overview

This is the way the world ends...

It was a fairy tale come true when Mark Dorn—handsome pilot, widower, tragic father of three—chose Jiselle to be his wife. The other flight attendants were jealous: She could quit now, leaving behind the million daily irritations of the job. (Since the outbreak of the Phoenix flu, passengers had become even more difficult and nervous, and a life of constant travel had grown harder.) She could move into Mark ...

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In a Perfect World

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Overview

This is the way the world ends...

It was a fairy tale come true when Mark Dorn—handsome pilot, widower, tragic father of three—chose Jiselle to be his wife. The other flight attendants were jealous: She could quit now, leaving behind the million daily irritations of the job. (Since the outbreak of the Phoenix flu, passengers had become even more difficult and nervous, and a life of constant travel had grown harder.) She could move into Mark Dorn's precious log cabin and help him raise his three beautiful children.

But fairy tales aren't like marriage. Or motherhood. With Mark almost always gone, Jiselle finds herself alone, and lonely. She suspects that Mark's daughters hate her. And the Phoenix flu, which Jiselle had thought of as a passing hysteria (when she had thought of it at all), well . . . it turns out that the Phoenix flu will change everything for Jiselle, for her new family, and for the life she thought she had chosen.

From critically acclaimed author Laura Kasischke comes a novel of married life, motherhood, and the choices we must make when we have no choices left.

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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.)
Elle
“[Kasischke]writes with worldly-wise profundity and sudden beauty but also sly humor . . .We’re helplessly drawn in by a slew of burning questions, with this one foremost: When can we expect a sequel…or is that nothing but a doomed hope?”
Los Angeles Times
“This is a doomsday book in the form of a finely observed domestic drama, showing how dysfunctional relationships shift and soften in response to the looming menace . . . The reader may well come away with the odd, exhilarating feeling that a spell has both been cast and broken.”
Katrina Kittle
“From its haunting opening image to its riveting end, this is a tale of beauty, resilience, love, sacrifice, and even grace found in the most unlikely of places. In a truly ‘perfect world’ every book I read would inspire me like this one.”
Jessica Anya Blau
“IN A PERFECT WORLD reveals astonishing and tender insight into human nature while exposing a terrifying, yet believable, world I’d never before imagined. This story will grasp onto your heart before swiftly carrying you away.”
Elle
“[Kasischke]writes with worldly-wise profundity and sudden beauty but also sly humor . . .We’re helplessly drawn in by a slew of burning questions, with this one foremost: When can we expect a sequel…or is that nothing but a doomed hope?”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061941825
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 20,859
  • File size: 348 KB

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 seven collections of poetry and nine novels, two of which have been made into films, including The Life Before Her Eyes. She lives in Chelsea, Michigan, with her husband and son.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Story is a disppointing read

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Average book, poorly executed

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2010

    Easy read; silly story

    This was a silly book. It was an easy read and I hoped that the ending would redeem the book but was dissapointed.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Worst book I've every read!

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2009

    Gorgeous!

    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...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    Not that great

    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.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Depressing tale with no ending.

    "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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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    A disappointment after The Glass Castle.

    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.

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  • Posted March 5, 2010

    In A Perfect World leaves you wanting more.

    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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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    Title not appropriate.

    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.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An unusual tale

    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.

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  • Posted December 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is not a feel-good book. It's a bit dark, and often times depressing, yet there is beauty between its pages and I found its simplicity oddly comforting.

    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 Quake.it 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2009

    I can't get into it!

    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.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    End of the World Drama

    In a story built around an illness reminiscent of the avian or swine flu Kasischke portrays the United States as a country abandoned and isolated by the global community. Viewed as the root of all evil as it relates to global warming and economic crisis American's are left to fend for themselves in their greatest hour of need. The picture of depression both physical and emotional the United States has descended into anarchy as the population begins to contaminate to the point of decimation.

    Knowing the above to be true, this book is not for the faint of heart. Not particularly graphic by any means it is also not a particularly light or uplifting read. There is very little happiness to be found as Jiselle goes from flight attendant in love to mother of three fighting to keep her family alive.

    What works well for me as a reader was how Kasischke writes the slow descent of Jiselle's seemingly perfect life. Moving from carefree professional, to being the other half of a hot love affair, to the eventual mother of ungrateful children we see Jiselle's struggle with her own identity. We watch as she fights for what she thinks is the perfect life then reluctantly accepts that it's not. We watch further still when she takes what's left of that life and tries to build something more from it. Taking the opportunity to be a better person even in the most dire of circumstances. Instead of picking up and leaving Mark's family to fend for themselves she turns her descent into depression and chaos into opportunity and builds a shaky foundation for a new and stronger life.

    <spoiler>

    What didn't work for me? The ending.

    I tend to be more of a black and white girl. I like a definitive ending and this one was all about the grey and leaving it up to interpretation. Was there a nuclear bomb that wiped Phoenix Flu off the face of the Earth? Was air traffic restored indicating things were going to go back to the way they used to be? It's hard to say. I'd like to think that Jiselle and her newly built family survived but we don't know for sure and that kind of ending is not my cup of tea. I like the bow that ties things up nice and tidy like.

    </spoiler>

    As a fan of dystopian literature I enjoyed the Phoenix Flu portion of the story as it was used as the foundation for Jiselle learning about herself and becoming a stronger woman. It was not particularly distinct from other stories in the genre but in the end I don't think that element was the intended focus of the story as much as a catalyst. It was the family dynamic and drama evolving that was the central focus of the story.

    If you are interested in a story that draws on the difficulties of infusing into and building a new family, endurance of spirit and a bit of the end of the world as we know it then grab a copy of In A Perfect World.

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  • Posted October 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Gripping suspense with rich family drama!

    Synopsis:
    Set sometime in the near future but in a world ravaged by an epidemic of the deadly Phoenix flu, In A Perfect World is a close look at the demands and sacrifices of love.

    Thirty-two-year-old Jiselle is ready to be swept off her feet by the dashing Captain Mark Dorn and shrugs off her mother's warnings. It didn't matter to Jiselle that she'd only known Mark for a few months and that she would be inheriting a ready-built family. Captain Dorn is universally regarded as a catch and the other flight attendants are jealous. After handling the tantrums of drunken passengers during transatlantic flights, the prospect of spending time with three children in a quiet New York town strikes Jiselle as a peaceful and positive change . So, Jiselle succumbs to the romance and trades in her flight attendant's wings for motherhood and married life. Then the Phoenix flu spreads into Jiselle's world, and alters it forever.

    Review:
    Kasischke takes complex and believable characters and drops them into an apocalyptic future. The effect is a suspense novel that holds all the emotional layers of a rich family drama.

    I expected to be frustrated by Jiselle's naivete, but she proved to be such a sympathetic character. I was charmed by her kindness and thoroughly enjoyed Kasischke's approach to storytelling. In A Perfect World is an absorbing and satisfying read - I strongly recommend it!

    Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 6, 2009), 336 pages.
    Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A winner

    The Phoenix flu has caused pandemic destruction around the world. Amidst the growing disaster, widower father of three children pilot Mark Dorn, asks thirty something flight attendant Jiselle to marry him. His picture of a rosy cottage instead of flying with irate passengers and jealous peers and her chance to finally be the bride and not the bridesmaid has her saying yes.

    However, as Mark keeps flying, Jiselle stays home with her three stepdaughters who do not hide their animosity or scorn of her. When the flu forces Mark to remain overseas for months in quarantine, Jiselle and her stepchildren must strike an accord because survival in a seemingly dying world means cooperation between the four stranded females.

    From its opening line of "If you are reading this you are going to die" (putting aside metaphorically implications of who is not), Laura Kasischke hooks her audience into reading this and hopefully not dying immediately afterward. The story line is extremely vivid and brilliantly contrasting the impact of the disaster and the efforts to survive as the four females go from two warring camps to a cohesive family unit. Fans will appreciate this timely thriller as an extended family struggles to survive in a world turned upside down due to the pandemic flu.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 22, 2010

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    Posted February 13, 2010

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    Posted October 22, 2009

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    Posted December 30, 2009

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