In a Perfect World: A Novel by Laura Kasischke (Harper Perennial, October 6, 2009), 336 pages
The world is coming to an end, and we learn this from sources more varied and more reliable (not to mention more plentiful) than Chicken Little. But that’s a different aspect of the story. Where was I? Oh yes. Jiselle had nearly given up hope that she’d ever find someone. She tried not to look too far past the next flight, the next day, but when she did look forward, she wondered if she’d ever get to wear the white dress, instead of the ugly bridesmaid dresses she was always wearing for fellow (often now retired) flight attendants. But then the handsome widower pilot starts courting her. Yes, she’s heard whispers about how hard it’s been for him to keep a nanny since his wife died. But he’s so devoted to his three children! Jiselle’s mother warns her against the marriage, but that’s probably just because she was stuck in a bad one for too long, right?
In a Perfect World is kind of dystopian, but also kind of not. If it is dystopian, I’d compare it to 1984, but told from the perspective of a very clueless character who’s ignoring the whole thing (to go back to my previous allusion, I think I could say told from the perspective of Henny Penny). In that way, it’s surreal.
We never saw what our characters were thinking, except sometimes tangentially through their actions. This made the book flat for me.
Maybe if I was a mom or if I had stepchildren this book would have been a richer experience for me. Even without that, watching the relationships change over the course of the book was fun.
Although I don’t necessarily need all my endings to be tied up neatly with bows, I was dissatisfied with the ending of In a Perfect World.
About the author
Laura Kasischke is the author of Boy Heaven, her first novel for teens, as well as The Life Before Her Eyes, Be Mine, and seven collections of poetry. She teaches in the University of Michigan creative writing MFA program and the Residential College.
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