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Perfect

A Novel

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Hardcover published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
A spellbinding novel that will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving, Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, difficult realities of the adult world with far-reaching consequences.

Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.
 
What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .
 
As she did in her debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce has imagined bewitching characters who find their ordinary lives unexpectedly thrown into chaos, who learn that there are times when children must become parents to their parents, and who discover that in confronting the hard truths about their pasts, they will forge unexpected relationships that have profound and surprising impacts. Brimming with love, forgiveness, and redemption, Perfect will cement Rachel Joyce’s reputation as one of fiction’s brightest talents.

Praise for Perfect
 
“Touching, eccentric . . . Joyce does an inviting job of setting up these mysterious circumstances, and of drawing Byron’s magical closeness with Diana.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Tiimes
 
“Haunting . . . compelling.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“[Joyce] triumphantly returns with Perfect. . . . As Joyce probes the souls of Diana, Byron and Jim, she reveals—slowly and deliberately, as if peeling back a delicate onion skin—the connection between the two stories, creating a poignant, searching tale.”O: The Oprah Magazine
 
Perfect touches on class, mental illness, and the ways a psyche is formed or broken. It has the tenor of a horror film, and yet at the end, in some kind of contortionist trick, the narrative unfolds into an unexpected burst of redemption. [Verdict:] Buy It.”New York
 
“Joyce’s dark, quiet follow-up to her successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, could easily become a book club favorite. . . . Perfect is the kind of book that blossoms under thoughtful examination, its slow tendencies redeemed by moments of loveliness and insight. However sad, Joyce’s messages—about the limitations of time and control, the failures of adults and the fears of children, and our responsibility for our own imprisonment and freedom—have a gentle ring of truth to them.”The Washington Post
 
“There is a poignancy to Joyce’s narrative that makes for her most memorable writing.”—NPR’s All Things Considered
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A spellbinding novel that will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving, Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, difficult realities of the adult world with far-reaching consequences.

Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.
 
What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .
 
As she did in her debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce has imagined bewitching characters who find their ordinary lives unexpectedly thrown into chaos, who learn that there are times when children must become parents to their parents, and who discover that in confronting the hard truths about their pasts, they will forge unexpected relationships that have profound and surprising impacts. Brimming with love, forgiveness, and redemption, Perfect will cement Rachel Joyce’s reputation as one of fiction’s brightest talents.

Praise for Perfect
 
“Touching, eccentric . . . Joyce does an inviting job of setting up these mysterious circumstances, and of drawing Byron’s magical closeness with Diana.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Tiimes
 
“Haunting . . . compelling.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“[Joyce] triumphantly returns with Perfect. . . . As Joyce probes the souls of Diana, Byron and Jim, she reveals—slowly and deliberately, as if peeling back a delicate onion skin—the connection between the two stories, creating a poignant, searching tale.”O: The Oprah Magazine
 
Perfect touches on class, mental illness, and the ways a psyche is formed or broken. It has the tenor of a horror film, and yet at the end, in some kind of contortionist trick, the narrative unfolds into an unexpected burst of redemption. [Verdict:] Buy It.”New York
 
“Joyce’s dark, quiet follow-up to her successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, could easily become a book club favorite. . . . Perfect is the kind of book that blossoms under thoughtful examination, its slow tendencies redeemed by moments of loveliness and insight. However sad, Joyce’s messages—about the limitations of time and control, the failures of adults and the fears of children, and our responsibility for our own imprisonment and freedom—have a gentle ring of truth to them.”The Washington Post
 
“There is a poignancy to Joyce’s narrative that makes for her most memorable writing.”—NPR’s All Things Considered
Product Details
Hardcover (400 pages)
Published: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9780812993301
Other books byRachel Joyce
  • A Faraway Smell of Lemon (Short Story)

    A Faraway Smell of Lemon (Short Story)
    Rachel Joyce, internationally bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect, delivers an unforgettable Christmas story of moving on from lost love, now available exclusively as an e-short.   It’s Christmas Eve, and Binny has only five hours to decorate her house and fix a proper  dinner. Dropping her children off at school, she runs into town to do some last-minute shopping, yet her mind and heart are wholly elsewhere. Fighting off the sting of recent heartbreak, Binny stumbles into a small store, and in striking up conversation with the saleswoman she is suddenly overcome with memories of old friends, family, loves that have come and gone. And in this tiny shop, in the unlikely company of a complete stranger, Binny discovers a surprising sense of peace.   Includes an enthralling preview of Rachel Joyce’s forthcoming novel Perfect.   Praise for Rachel Joyce   “Perfect is a poignant and powerful book, rich with empathy and charged with beautiful, atmospheric writing.”—Tana French, author of In the Woods, on Perfect   “[Perfect’s] unputdownable factor . . . lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions. There is the unbreakable bond between mother and son, the fear of not belonging . . . and how love can offer redemption.”—London Evening Standard, on Perfect   “Beguiling . . . enthralls and moves you as it unfolds.”—People (four stars), on The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry   “[A] gorgeously poignant novel of hope and transformation.”—O: The Oprah Magazine, on The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
    A Novel
    NATIONAL BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST   “[Rachel] Joyce’s beguiling debut is [a] modest-seeming story of ‘ordinary’ English lives that enthralls and moves you as it unfolds.”—People (four stars)   Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. A novel of charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.   Praise for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry “[A] gorgeously poignant novel of hope and transformation.”—O: The Oprah Magazine   “A cause for celebration . . . [Joyce] has a lovely sense of the possibilities of redemption. In this bravely unpretentious and unsentimental take, she’s cleared space where miracles are still possible.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post   “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is not just a book about lost love. It is about all the wonderful everyday things Harold discovers through the mere process of putting one foot in front of the other.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

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