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'A roller-coaster ride ... For fans of Celeste Ng, Gillian Flynn and Liane Moriarty.' Booklist (starred review)
The bestselling author of The Party explores what happens when a seemingly perfect family is pushed to the edge by cruel, vindictive and increasingly dangerous attacks.
Thomas and Viv Adler have a picture-perfect family. Affluent and attractive, with two well-mannered kids almost out of the nest, they live in a beautiful house in a well-to-do neighbourhood. Their jobs are fulfilling; their children are thriving; the world is their oyster.
Until one morning, when they wake up to find that their house and car have been pelted with eggs. Thomas dismisses it as the work of a few out-of-control kids, but when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and the tires on their BMW are punctured, he begins to worry. Unable to identify the perpetrators, they are helpless as the assaults escalate. The police assure them that this is just the work of bored teenagers, but no one in the Adler family believes it. After all, each of them has a secret - kept not only from the outside world but from each other.
As the Adlers grapple with their guilt, fear and shame, the assaults grow deadly. Their 'perfect' facade is crumbling, and it may be too late for any of them to do anything about it.
'Robyn Harding is at her twisty, devious best ... A propulsive, constantly surprising read that both entertains and chills.' Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here
Buy The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
Book DetailsISBN: 9781760858889
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Book Review: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding - Reviewed by CloggieA (23 Jul 2021)
4.5?s The Perfect Family is a novel by Canadian author, Robyn Harding. When the Adler family home becomes the target of vandals, each member of the family is convinced that it has nothing to do with them: the cause is surely something another member of the family has said or done. Isn’t it?
It seems like bored kids at the start: eggs, fruit thrown at the house, a smoke bomb: annoying but fairly harmless. Then it escalates: a rock through a window, tyres slashed, graffiti, a burning hedge…
The Adlers, with their lovely house in Portland, Oregon, seem like the perfect family: Dad is a successful realtor, Mom does interior design, son has just completed the second year of college, and daughter attends high school. But the façade of perfection quickly breaks down as their secrets are revealed to the reader.
Viv Adler has a tiny little theft problem; Thomas Adler is being blackmailed; Eli Adler witnessed something awful and is being pressured to stay silent; and Tarryn Adler has a little online hobby of which her family would surely disapprove.
Not that they are revealing those to their nearest and dearest. The dysfunction is deep enough that none of them trusts the others enough. Towards the end of the story, Thomas tells his family “Finding fault is not going to change anything. All that matters now is that we’re honest with each other. And we’re there for each other” but two months earlier, they’re still too busy being angry or ashamed or guilty, hiding secrets and blaming each other to really communicate, to provide love and loyalty and support. Of course, if they had, there’d be no story.
There’s more than one mystery happening here: What’s the motive for the blackmail? Who’s the chatroom stalker? And are either of those related to the vandalism (for which there are many possible candidates)?
The split narratives give the perspective of each family member, and it’s perhaps the youngest who has the most insight: “My mom and dad cared more about appearances than anyone I knew. They had to have the perfect home, the perfect yard, had to drive status-symbol cars. They dressed the part of the attractive, wealthy, stylish couple, had kept it up even when their world was falling apart.” Not as united as they imagine, though: Viv has a naïvely optimistic belief in discussion solving all disputes, but Thomas goes out and buys a gun.
In a story that touches on body image, internet anonymity, and hazing, Harding gives the reader a cast of believably flawed characters who display arrogance that they can outwit a blackmailer; guilt for some action or inaction; shame; or lack of self-esteem. They are quick to speculate and jump to conclusions. Perhaps the author doesn’t intend to entertain with the kleptomaniac’s behaviour, but there will be readers who find it darkly funny. Watching this not-so-perfect family fall apart is quite addictive. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Australia.
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