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Perfect by Rachel Joyce


by Rachel Joyce

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Unfortunately, I did not finish this book. I very much enjoyed 'Harold Fry' but just could not get into this book. After 160 pages I still did not feel connected, and with over 200 pages to go decided not to continue. It seemed to just wander along without picking up any pace. If there was to be a big reveal at the end connecting Byron, his mother, James and Jim etc, I had lost interest in finding out what it was.
  PIER50 | Sep 6, 2014 |
Two very bright childhood friends are fascinated by time, and when Byron learns that two seconds are going to disappear to even out the year, he fixates on what will happen to those seconds. At the same time, his mother causes an accident while he is in the car, but he is the only one who sees what happens, leading to serious repercussions in his family. Chapters about Byron as a boy are interspersed with the story of Jim, more than 40 years later. He has been in and out of a psychiatric hospital over the years, and now that it is closed he is forced to try to survive in the world in spite of his obsessive compulsion disorder and social anxiety. By the second third of the book, it seemed belabored to me, and it was all too easy to skip sections, although I did care enough to find out what happened in the end. ( )
  sleahey | Jul 26, 2014 |
I found this readable but disagree with many of the glowing reviews here.
The two parallel stories became distracting for me. I felt we were being asked to work out how they connected to each other but that, ultimately, it wasn't that interesting a connection.
One for the beach. ( )
  lizchris | Jun 24, 2014 |
After becoming a fan of Joyce's work through her first novel, I eagerly anticipated the chance to read her second. It was quickly clear that in this book, the author is telling a very different story. In Harold Fry, the reader is given a sense almost from the beginning that THIS story, no matter its twists and turns, will end up okay. Perfect starts with a very different tone - the reader knows right away that this is not going to be a happily-ever-after.

It is a book about brief moments - about tiny, seemingly insignificant events, which alter the course of the world for one young boy during one long summer. Joyce unfolds her story slowly, with chapters alternating between Byron, the young boy, and Jim, a troubled adult man who remembers that summer as well. These alternating viewpoints can at times make the narrative seem a bit stiff, but as the novel progresses it becomes clear why each is critical to the ultimate resolution.

"It is indeed a small thing, that Eileen prefers frost to snow, but it is in these, he realizes, these smallnesses, that make up the big things. Besides, the big things in life do not present themselves as such. They come in the quiet, ordinary moments - a phone call, a letter - they come when we are not looking, without clues, without warning, and that is why they floor us. And it can take a lifetime, a life of many years, to accept the incongruity of things; that a small moment can sit side by side with a big one, and become part of the same." (p. 270)

Joyce tackles a myriad of big topics - class and society, guilt and innocence, mental illness, love and sacrifice - and weaves a tale that is intimate and personal. Readers can't help but feel sympathy for Byron, his mother, and Jim, as each character is forced to deal with events that are clearly more than they can handle. That the tragedy near the end, which almost feels inevitable, does not leave the novel with a sense of despair is a tribute to the author's skill.

This is an excellent book, and while some fans of Joyce's work may be expecting something different, I believe this novel is ultimately just as powerful as her first. This author has found a place on my "must-read" list. Recommended.

(I recieved a review copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.) ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Jun 20, 2014 |
another book by the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye ( )
  wcbookclub | May 27, 2014 |
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Only when the clock stops does time come to life.
—William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
For my mother and my son, Jo (without an e)
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In 1972, two seconds were added to time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812993306, Hardcover)

In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures. Then Byron's mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron's perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:16:41 -0400)

In the aftermath of a life-shattering accident in the English countryside in 1972, twelve-year-old Byron Hemming struggles with events that his mother does not seem to remember and embarks on a journey to discover what really did or did not happen.

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