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Rachel Joyce's second novel, Perfect, is a slow burner. It begins on a day on which eleven-year-old Byron Hemmings believes that two seconds will be added to the clock. He believes that this will happen because his friend James Lowe has told him that it is so. And so, Byron waits for the two seconds, and he believes that he finds them. He thinks that he sees his watch jump forward just as his mother hits a little girl on a red bicycle in her brand new Jaguar on a road in the wrong part of town where she never should have been in the first place. And from this moment, the two seconds seem to make everything in Byron's life unravel.
The novel is told from two perspectives: Byron's during the summer of 1972 when all in his life changes, and Jim's, a man who has spent his life in and out of the mental hospital, Besley Hill. At first, it isn't clear for the reader how these narratives are related, but as the story unravels, they begin to merge and slowly reveal themselves. The mysteries of the story are subtle, but poweful.
What stood out to me most in the book is the aptitude with which Joyce writes in the voice of the young Byron. Many narratives told from the perspective of children seem to make them overly precocious and mature, or they make them too simple, like caricatures. Byron felt real, and watching his mother's suffering through his eyes, gave a whole new perspective on a story that is also about the discontent and isolation of a 1970's housewife. As a whole the novel is subtle, but lovely. It is at its strongest through the middle as all of the character's lives begin to feel the impact of the accident that happens on the first few pages. I recommend it for fans of subtle mystery and slice-of-life novels.
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Title:PerfectAuthor: Rachel Joyce
Where I got it: From the publisher and TLC book tours.