This book was so strange that I barely know where to start in my review. Ms. Joyce has written another book that is apparently very popular, and it seems that Perfect is popular in England as well. It has not been released in the United States yet, but will be in January.
The book is set in the summer of 1972, in the English countryside, and also in the present day. It is about two boys, Byron Hemmings and James Lowe. Byron and James are two exceptional boys, who think much more deeply than any eleven-year-old I've ever known. They are very worried because they've read that the atomic clock has somehow gotten off by two seconds, so the seconds must be added to make it right again. On one hot, summer morning in 1972, Byron glances at his watch to see the hands moving backwards, and he knows that the seconds are being added right now. In that instant a terrible accident occurs that will change the course of their lives forever. In the present day an older man, named Jim, struggles with performing day-to-day tasks as he struggles with mental illness. It is obvious that the two stories are combined, but exactly how they are is kept a secret until the very end. Even if you think you know how, you probably don't.
I'm not even sure what I think of this book. I found it to be ridiculous that two children were actually controlling the events of peoples' lives. It made me wonder what all the adults, who should have been responsible for them, were doing. James' mother seemed not to care about him at all, while Byron's mother was obviously the victim of some sort of mental abuse and apparently also suffered from some sort of mental illness or depression. Byron loved his mother so much, that I wished she would have stepped up and taken some control over her life herself, instead of letting others (Byron and James, Beverly, her husband) order her around or manipulate her.
There were so many things in this book that I felt could have been better described. It kept referring to an "incident" at the pond, but it was never made completely clear what it was, except in short statements throughout. The problems between Byron's parents weren't very clear either, nor was the Beverley's background ever fully explored. I know that this is because the book is told from a child's point of view, and children don't understand many of the things that they see and hear. This is what made the story so crazy for me. I wanted an adult to step in and take over--but then Ms. Joyce wouldn't have had a plot at all, so I suppose it had to be this way. However, as an adult, I wanted all the holes filled in.
You may think from reading this review, that I hated this book, but I'm not sure that's the truth. I would read for a little while, and then become so frustrated, that I closed it up and put it away, but inevitably, I would pick it up again. It was something I just couldn't put down. I was drawn in by the plot and characters. Though I didn't necessarily like the story, I feel that it is a great author who can draw me in and make me want more. I like a book where I want to scream at the characters and tell them what's really going on. I can't recommend Perfect as a book I loved, but I absolutely found myself intrigued. If you read it, you might find the same.
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.