In A Perfect World, by Laura Kasischke – Book Review

In A Perfect World, by Laura KasischkeAt 32, Jiselle McKnight has been a bridesmaid no less than six times, so when her co-worker, a sexy airline pilot, starts to woo her and wants to marry her, she is more than happy to overlook a few things to become the next Mrs. Mark Dorn. Doubts plague her relationship before she even gets married- after all he could just be marrying her to to gain some reliable childcare- and although her mother tries to save her from the similar problematic issues that destroyed her own marriage, Jiselle is unwilling to listen.

The mysterious Phoenix flu, whose origins and causes are widely speculated yet never pinned down surround the inauspicious beginnings of Jiselle’s marriage, and the hysteria about the the outbreak does little to ease her into wedded bliss to a perpetually traveling and highly attractive husband or into the instant family that she is attempting to create with two teenage daughters who hate her, and a meek young stepson.  Jiselle has to find a way to either sink or swim within her new role as wife and stepmother but also find her footing  in a country caught in the throes of a nationwide epidemic.

Jiselle was a hard character for me to cotton to in the initial chapters of this book.  Naive and more than a little detached she seemed to float through the world without any urgency or a sense  of the consequences of her actions.  Marrying a man with three kids whom she had yet to meet, a week before her wedding as people are dropping like flies from a flu whose source is yet unidentified, seemed to be the height of crazy.  The novel unfolds with a curious vague and dreamy quality that matches Jiselle’s personality but seems a little odd at times when compared to descriptions of the epidemic.

I warmed up to Jiselle as she started to wake up a bit and take responsibility for herself and got a better handle on her role within the family, and was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this novel.  While none of the specifics of the epidemic were ever discussed there was enough information about the changes in the environment and the functioning of the society to keep me grounded in the novel and the gravity of their situation.

I enjoyed that the narrative could focus on the personal aspects of how the epidemic affected the family and the changes that it made in their lives, the ways that it would bring them together and tear them apart.  Kasischke strikes a fine balance between the dream-like and the horrific, and though most of the book is is limned in the weight of serious matters the book manages to escape being overwhelmingly bleak.  I read with great curiosity to find out what would become of Jiselle and her family.

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FTC Disclosure-  Not only am I am an Amazon Associate, but I also received this book from the publisher via Book Club Girl. I just *might* be the devil.  Just might.

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    1. You were on the call, right? i though it was very interesting what the author said abut Jiselle being a fairytale princess. It said a lot about her character to me.

    1. I have to keep the disclosure fun when I have the opportunity. I think it can be a hard call with this one and I think it depends on how long you wanted to stick with the book. Jiselle grew on me, but if I had abandoned this 50 pages in I would have had a much different view of her and the whole book.

    1. It surprised me. Because Jiselle was so out of touch, the tone was an interesting one. It was bleak but a little detached and dreamlike all at the same time.

  1. I have a copy of this book, but it never seems to rise above the middle of my TBR pile. I’m sure I’ll get to it one day, and I really am enjoying dystopian fiction lately, but I haven’t seen many people wowed by it. Perhaps during this semester break I’ll find time to read it:-)
    .-= nomadreader´s last blog ..dinner and a movie: Invictus =-.

    1. It’s hard with bleak books that have characters that you didn’t absolutely love but after awhile I wanted to see what was going to happen next to Jiselle and her family.

  2. Heather sent me her copy of this, so I think I will have to read it sooner or later, but I think I’m going to have to wait for awhile after reading “Life As We Knew It.” I can only take so many catastrophes at once!
    .-= Jen – Devourer of Books´s last blog ..Am I A Grinch? =-.

    1. I think whether you like it or not really depends a lot on how you feel about reading a very realistic disaster story whose main character you may not immediately or ever like. I tend to be okay with reading about people I don’t like if they are interesting enough and if they are exploring interesting issues.

  3. I think I’ll be sitting this one out. But I love the fact that you used “cotton to” in your review! You just don’t see enough of that phrase these days. 😀
    .-= softdrink´s last blog ..Humbug =-.

  4. I am reading her new book now and I had the same feeling with the new book. It took quite some time for me to care or want to know more about any of the characters. I am almost through with it and feel completely different than I did when I first started it. Maybe it just takes awhile for her to develop the characters. Or maybe she knows how she wants it to turn out, but doesn’t know how she’ll get there until she begins the process of fleshing out the story?? Not sure.

    What I liked about In a Perfect World is that Jiselle matured and was an entirely different person by the end of the book. Growth is good, especially with a character like Jiselle who starts off so naive.

    1. I keep thinking that if I just give it a little bit more I will be sucked in. I put it aside for now but in a little bit I will try to read another 20 or 30 pages in a last ditch effoert to see if something sparks.

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