On a foggy spring morning in 1972, twelve-year-old Byron Hemming and his mother are driving to school in the English countryside. On the way, in a life-changing two seconds, an accident occurs. Or does it? Byron is sure it happened, but his mother, sitting right next to him in the car, has no reaction to it. Over the course of the days and weeks that follow, Byron embarks on a journey to discover what really happened--or didn't--that fateful morning when everything changed. It is a journey that will take him--a loveable and cloistered twelve-year-old boy with a loveable and cloistered twelve-year-old boy's perspective on life--into the murkier, more difficult realities of the adult world, where people lie, fathers and mothers fight without words, and even unwilling boys must become men. Byron will have to reconcile the dueling realities of that summer, a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit and the power of compassion.
Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
“Perfect radiates its own natural, understated foreboding, and even its title contributes to the sense of dread. . . . The importance of the extra two seconds is carefully withheld until the novel’s end so that Perfect can consider what role the power of destiny has played in this story. Of all the secrets that emerge late in this touching, eccentric book, that is the most confounding one of all.”
—The New York Times
“A tender second novel by the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry . . . the core of this delicate novel is the tender relationship between mother and son . . . the power of Joyce’s prose lies in small, astute observations . . . these subtle touches give the book an intense, slightly mesmeric feel. . . . Tense and engrossing,”
“Diana herself is faultless. She is to Perfect what Harold Fry was to [The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry]: a fully rounded hero, someone to fall in love with and argue about, cherish and admonish, as though she were real. . . . If only there were more novelists like Rachel Joyce.”
“This book is hard in every sense. . . . But persevere and plough on alongside Byron (who you’ll find you want to stay with, as if by continuing to read him you might be able to protect him somehow, or at least keep him company), and the reward is a redemptive ending of such tenderness that after 300-odd pages of darkness you will end up grinning dippily and recommending this wild, searching book to everyone you know.”
“A near flawless novel of emotional truth.”
“The author of last year's biggest selling debut The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry returns with a very different but equally captivating novel. . . . This is a heartbreaking story, full of compassion, that unfolds gently but relentlessly against the backdrop of the suburban '70s. Perfect confirms [Rachel Joyce] as a major new voice.” –The Bookseller, Book of the Month July 2013
“Brilliantly realized... a powerful study of grief, loss, guilt, depression, mental illness - and ultimately the power of love - which grips the reader on every page.”
—Daily Mail (UK)
From the Hardcover edition.