Review: Perfect by Rachel Joyce

About the author, Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. She is also the award-winning writer of more than twenty plays for BBC Radio 4.

She started writing after a twenty-year acting career, in which she performed leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company and won multiple awards. Rachel Joyce lives with her family on a Gloucestershire farm.

Connect with Rachel

Website: Rachel Joyce Books
Facebook: Rachel Joyce

My Thoughts

I love it when I go into a book thinking it will be one thing, only to discover it’s something else entirely. Perfect is just such a book.

On one level, it’s the story of two boys, Byron and James, and how they influence each other, especially in regard to their reactions after Byron’s mother is involved in an accident, told in alternating chapters with the story of a man named Jim, who uses his OCD to protect the world from the bad things he feels he causes, and how those two timelines eventually converge. But it’s also a story about time and youth, love and maturity, and how close each of us really is to the “insanity” side of the mental health spectrum.

Joyce’s voice for the chapters that focus on the boys and Byron’s mother takes on the quality of a fairy-tale or fable. Everything is wrapped in gauze and seen through the soft-focus filter of memory. Jim’s chapters, though, are told in crisp HD clarity, an interesting juxtaposition with the cloudiness of Jim’s mental state.

Having finished reading Perfect over the weekend, and taking a day to digest it before posting this review, I’m left feeling like I’ve read the most profound novel ever, and at the same time, like I didn’t quite get everything the author was hoping the reader would perceive.

Is it a good story? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I liked all – or any – of the individual characters. I know I wanted to slug Byron’s father a lot, and wanted to shake some sense into his mother.

But you don’t have to LIKE the characters to enjoy the experience of reading a novel, and after everything, I find that I did enjoy Rachel Joyce’s novel, because it made me see things like sanity and stability a little differently.

I already knew that no one is “perfect,” but this made me realize how many people still try to be.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. To see the entire schedule of tour stops, visit this link: Book Tour for Perfect, by Rachel Joyce