Published by William Morrow Paperbacks ISBN 9780062476760
Trade paperback, $15.99, 464 pages
Author Gilly Macmillan follows up her 2015 gripping debut novel What She Knew, about a mom whose eight-year-old son vanishes, with another tense and topical suspense thriller, The Perfect Girl.
The Perfect Girl opens with 17-year-old Zoe Maisey and her stepbrother Lucas ready to perform a piano recital. Zoe's mom Maria and Lucas' dad Chris sit proudly in the front row, ready to hear their talented children play. Zoe then tells us that six hours later her mother will be dead.
Now that the author has your attention, we shift narrators to Sam, a solicitor whom we find is having an affair with Zoe's Aunt Tessa. Sam and Tessa met a few years prior, when Sam was Zoe's lawyer. When Zoe was 14 years-old, she was involved in a car accident that took the lives of three of her classmates, and Sam relates that part of the story to us.
We also get Tessa's point of view. Tessa loves her niece Zoe and sister Maria fiercely. She is having trouble in her marriage; she and her husband have been trying for years to conceive a child, and her husband has slid into alcoholism and depression.
The timeline shifts back and forth, but it is never confusing. The title refers to not only Zoe- who is trying her best to be the perfect girl her mother wants, but to Tessa, who has always been the perfect girl in her family, and Maria, a former wild child who, after Zoe's accident, has worked hard to be the perfect wife to Chris.
But what is the cost of trying for perfection? When Zoe was fourteen, she went to a party, had what she thought was one drink, hoping to get the attention of Jack, the guy every girl wanted. She thought she was using good judgement, but in trying to impress Jack a terrible tragedy occurs.
Maria changed her life when she married Chris. Her marriage to Zoe's husband broke up after Zoe's accident, and Maria rebuilt her life with Chris and his son Lucas. She designed the perfect life for her husband- they had the perfect house, she had a beautiful kitchen where she created wonderful meals for her husband. The cost of attempting perfection, especially for women, can be too much to pay.
So how did Maria end up dead? That is the ultimate mystery here, and you'll fly through the pages to find out the answer.
Reading The Perfect Girl put me in mind of HBO's series, The Night Of. A seemingly good kid makes a few bad decisions that leads to more trouble. There's also a lawyer's point of view, as in the HBO series. Fans of The Night Of will want to follow-up with The Perfect Girl.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Gilly Macmillan's tour. The rest of the stops are here:
Tuesday, September 6th: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps
Wednesday, September 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, September 8th: bookchickdi
Friday, September 9th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Monday, September 12th: Tina Says…
Tuesday, September 13th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, September 14th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, September 15th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, September 19th: she treads softly
Tuesday, September 20th: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, September 21st: Comfy Reading
Thursday, September 22nd: Book Hooked Blog
Monday, September 26th: I Brought a Book
Tuesday, September 27th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, September 28th: Vox Libris
Thursday, September 29th: What Will She Read Next