How much difference do a few seconds really make? For Byron, they make quite a big difference. Huge, in fact. For Byron, two seconds means the breaking apart of his carefully built little world.
He’s just a boy when he learns that time has fallen out of balance. To put it right, it’s suggested that it could be necessary to add two seconds in. It becomes an obsession for Byron, when and if these two seconds will be slipped in. And when his mother makes a grave mistake, Byron becomes convinced the fault lies in those two added seconds.
Perfect is the kind of book that sticks with a reader. Chapters alternate between Byron in 1972 and Jim present day and it soon becomes clear that the narrators are equally wonderful and wonderfully unreliable.
Joyce does begin the story in a rather quiet manner. Essentially the reader is introduced to a very ordinary family. A family that has every advantage. A family that is “perfect.” But there are cracks below the surface of this family’s story even before things begin to go downhill. And while the story does unfold at a slower pace, it’s a pace that’s very intentional and ultimately rewarding. The characters are fully realized and carefully built, from their smallest mannerisms to their largest desires. In so doing, Joyce forces the reader to realize the ultimate importance of these details as the story plays out to its final conclusion.
Perfect is a definite favorite of mine this year and one I highly recommend.
10/14 Becky LeJeune
PERFECT by Rachel Joyce. Random House (January 14, 2014.) ISBN 978-0812993301. 400p.