‘Perfect’ by Rachel Joyce

PerfectstarstarstarReaders who liked  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will not be disappointed by this one, although it is very different. It’s sort of sad yet satisfying at the same time. And there is no need to read Harold Fry first.

Joyce’s books are thoughtful and gentle but can evoke deep feelings and produce an examination of one’s own life, loves, and shortcomings. The title of the book is….er, well, perfect. That single word kept echoing through my mind as I turned pages and even long after I’d put the book down.

In all of us, to some degree, is the striving for perfection…that unattainable ideal conjured in our own minds or suggested by the lies of standards set by advertising or the media. We want to be neater, slimmer, stronger, faster, more efficient, less forgetful…fill in the blanks for yourself. But that thinking is so flawed and does so much damage to our souls. Because it simply is not possible.

“Two seconds are huge. It’s the difference between something happening and something not happening. It’s very dangerous.” 

The story begins with the decision in 1972 to add two seconds to a leap year in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. This actually was done, but never repeated since. The author toys with existential dread and what could happen in two extra seconds that might alter the future forever.

Byron’s mother, late on the morning school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?

A great book club choice with much to ponder and discuss.

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