Perfect

  • by Rachel Joyce
  • Narrated by Paul Rhys
  • 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Touching and Fragile - Once Untangled.

Having loved Rachel Joyce's original novel "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", I dove into "Perfect" as soon as it was released. After a decent amount of time listening to the story, I had to admit to myself that I wasn't following the narrative at all - so I started over, right back at the beginning. After several more false starts, I decided to go online and find some reviews; was it just me that was confused? Luckily, there was a review on Amazon from a reader with an early release copy of the book, who mentioned that the chapters of the book alternate between the story of the two boys in 1972 (beginning with both the book's preface "The Addition of Time" and the first chapter "Something Terrible") and the story that takes place in our current year - a story of a man nearing 60,(beginning with Chapter Two, entitled "Jim"). From that point on, the chapters switch regularly, with each narrative getting every other chapter.

With that piece of crucial information, I began the book once again; and from that point on, I was entranced. Much like the author's first book, the story is both beautiful and sad; focusing on the cause and effect that relationships, actions, and experiences in our past have on our future lives.

I found this story very touching and honest. Sharing any more about the plot would be a disservice, so I'll leave it at that.

If you enjoyed "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", I believe you'll enjoy this new tale; a very different story, but treated with the same respect and compassion by it's author.
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- Amanda

Perfect is Perfect in nearly every way

This novel was one of those amazing surprise-finds for me- of a genre that I may not usually choose, but am I ever grateful for having done so. Rachel Joyce has penned a miracle, in my opinion. Full of heart but not sentimental, portraits of individuals showing, in one, the imperceptible tremors of a slide from perfect, that grow big as earthquakes in the haven of a young family; and in another, the present and aftermath of a genius in breakdown who must ascend the mountain decades later back into himself in a changed world.


Ephemeral, beautiful. I listened and I became Byron- I whispered secrets half in French to my best friend who is forbidden to come to my house, bent behind schoolbooks in stolen moments. I made plans, I drew diagrams, I listened behind cracks in doors in darkened hallways, forgetting to breathe. I filled in the blanks, I counted the seconds, I was careful I was the only one who could save my beloved mother.

I lost myself in the moor, in Cranham House, and became Diana, mesmerized by her dancing and fluttering laugh and watching for the goose to lay its egg to save it from the crows, sitting in a row like executioners. I bathed in the false dawn created by bonfires burning mint-green cardigans and pencil skirts. I languished in the twilight, glass in hand, curled in a red velvet chair in a field of daisies by the pond, the poppies just visible over the hill.

I saw what we were meant to see, and I prayed for an accident to befall Beverly to render her paralyzed and mute or possibly dead. I wanted to throw Jeannie out a window onto her horrible face.

I wanted to shake the stupor out of the boy-genius who led his best friend's family into the little life of horrors for his own selfish amusement and, later, to strategically spy on Diana while she crumbled. But then I grew to empathize with the man who never could forgive himself for his childish errors.

I love this book so much. I loved every minute of it. Beautifully written. These characters will kill you with their grace, romance, firerceness, rottenness, beauty, anger, selfishness, and despair.

The narration by Paul Rhys is truly wonderful. He does an excellent job bringing out the truth in all aspects of this novel. I would love to see Mr. Rhys narrate more titles.

Highly recommended.
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- Cassandra

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-14-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio