Title: The Perfect Family
Author: Lorna Dounaeva
Publisher: Inkubator Books
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐
Victoria Hill has the perfect family. Joey, 9yo, is well-behaved and a musical prodigy, and Anna, at 14, is a model student at St Bernard’s School. Victoria herself is an Environmental Ambassador at Joey’s school. She and her husband, Kit, a stockbroker, have a huge house and are doing very well. But the truth is that the couple are paranoid about having their secret revealed.
When Joey’s teacher, Miss Henley, suggests that he might be autistic, Victoria goes into denial mode, unaware that Joey has stopped taking his pills. Meanwhile, Anna has begun to rebel and has made friends who are undesirable in Victoria’s eyes. Victoria is barely holding it together when Belinda Donovan asks for a piano class for her son, Ricky, both she and Kit baulk at the idea. They are both afraid of the consequences of Belinda learning a truth they have tried hard to run from.
The book is written in the 3rd person past tense point of view of Victoria and Anna. We are also given excerpts from Joey’s diary.
The pace of the book is slow. The first hint of the extent to which she is willing to go to preserve the façade of the perfect family comes at the 57 percent mark. Thereafter it’s downhill.
The book offers a subtle critique on the lengths some people go to maintain a façade, especially for social media.
None of the characters are really likeable. In Victoria’s case, she starts out as unlikeable, and then her behaviour worsens. Because she had a less than perfect upbringing, she is determined to ensure perfection for her family in every aspect. While the motivation may be sound, the way she goes about achieving it is not.
Kit gets short shrift. He rarely takes any action, unless directed to do so by his wife, and so, he comes across as flat. He doesn’t even have any deep connection with the children. It is Victoria who makes all the decisions.
Some of the details we are given about her are bizarre. On a day on which she has lots of housework to do, she remains on hold on a call to a busy restaurant, Harry’s Burger House, we are told, for a full hour, before hanging up. Surely if she were that obsessed, she’d hang up and actually go to the place. Also, it’s crazy that a busy restaurant doesn’t cut the call but lets her hold on for an hour.
I liked the cover, the cracked windshield against the house was beautiful. It served to remind us readers of the perfection that was threatened for the main characters.
The ending was really twisted, and not in a good way. It was completely unbelievable. Nothing that had happened before prepared us for the end.
(I read this book on NetGalley. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley.)