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Perfect by Rachel Joyce


by Rachel Joyce

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6737521,599 (3.7)29
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    What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Both quirky then-and-now stories

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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
This was no Harold Fry. ( )
  LindaWeeks | May 14, 2018 |
After loving "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" this book was a disappointment: too depressing, too long, and the ending too little too late. No sign of the quirky wit of the previous book. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
I picked up this book through the emails I get from BookBub, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a perfectly crafted little novel, set in England, which tells the story of how a random accident changes the life of a little boy. Byron’s mother, an ex-actress in a troubled marriage with a controlling and socially ambitious jerk, bumps into a little girl with her car and, unknowingly, drives off. Byron realizes what has happened and encourages his mother to right her wrong. Meanwhile, alternating chapters tell the story of Jim, a lonely adult with severe OCD. It’s a beautifully written and subtle book, with enough ambiguity to make it a good book discussion pick. ( )
  CasualFriday | Jun 16, 2017 |
Great writing, a clever plot, and beautifully rendered characters make this a compelling story. I cared deeply about Byron, Jim, and Diana and even now find myself thinking about their story.

In 1972, two seconds were added to the atomic clock. Byron, an unusually anxious boy, is fearful of this event and thinks nothing good can come of humans meddling with time. “Two seconds are huge,” he says. “It’s the difference between something happening and something not happening.” His worst fears are realized when, early on in the story, an accident occurs that (in Byron’s mind) is a result of those two seconds of time. The guilt his mother Diana feels over the incident causes her to behave in ways that are foreign to what Byron has come to expect and his perfectly ordered world is threatened. He and his friend James hatch “Operation Perfect” to save his mother from the aftermath of the accident. Byron’s world is falling apart and his childish attempts to cope and navigate an adult world become ever more heartbreaking.

Told in alternating chapters, there is also the story of Jim, set in the present day. Jim is severely OCD and has spent decades in and out of a psychiatric facility. He is all alone and ill-equipped to live in the world after years of institutional living. His tale is heartbreaking as well, but a minor accident opens the possibility of a better life.

This is a tragic tale of two lives but not one without hope. At times the middle felt a bit slow, but the payoff at the end is worth it. There is a revelation that I had figured out long before but it didn’t ruin the journey for me. There are a lot of discussion worthy topics presented that would make it perfect for book clubs: time, social class, mental illness, the futility and façade of perfection, as well as friendship and forgiveness.

I also loved Joyce's first book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (longlisted for the Man Booker prize), and can't wait to see what Joyce writes next! ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
At the beginning of Rachel Joyce's second novel, its main character, 11-year-old Byron Hemmings, is gripped by existential dread. His friend James has told him that two seconds are to be added to the clock because "time was out of kilter with the natural movement of the Earth … The idea appalled him." But if Byron mistakes the source of his anxiety, his fear of disorder is all too justified. The world as he knows it is about to collapse.Diana's personality is buried along with her previous life in the theatre and her mother, who may have been a prostitute. Her husband Seymour is wildly jealous. After the crash, the surface of their life together cracks.Dread mounts as he watches her embark on a friendship with Beverley, the working-class (though not working) mother of the child she hit with her car. Guilty, rich and lonely, Diana showers Beverley and daughter Jeanie with gifts, The book has a second strand set in the present that describes the attraction between Jim, a damaged former psychiatric patient, and Eileen. Joyce signs off with the cheery homily that "life can change a little for the better". Her novel's more resonant theme is that social mobility is perilous. She who comes from the end of the pier will end up going back there.
  Annabel1954 | Jan 8, 2017 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:20 -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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