Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

The Perfect Son
Barbara Claypole White
Lake Union Publishing, 386 Pages
Source: Kindle Unlimited
*** Stars
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From a distance, Felix Fitzwilliam, the son of an old English family, is a good husband and father. But, obsessed with order and routine, he’s a prisoner to perfection. Disengaged from the emotional life of his North Carolina family, Felix has let his wife, Ella, deal with their special-needs son by herself.

A talented jewelry designer turned full-time mother, Ella is the family rock…until her heart attack shatters their carefully structured existence. Now Harry, a gifted teen grappling with the chaos of Tourette’s, confronts a world outside his parents’ control, one that tests his desire for independence.

As Harry searches for his future, and Ella adapts to the limits of her failing health, Felix struggles with his past and present roles. To prevent the family from being ripped apart, they must each bend with the inevitability of change and reinforce the ties that bind.

My Review

The Perfect Son proved to be a quick and heartfelt read. It was an accurate depiction of family life and dealing with behavioral issues. I very much related to all characters, even Harry's.    As the story starts out you get a sense of detachment and maybe even a hint of resentment from Ella towards her husband Felix.  Well, I did anyways.  However,I was pleasantly surprised when the story took a turn in a direction that I didn't see coming.   

Harry is the perfectly imperfect son of Felix and Ella.  He suffers from tourettes as well as ADHD and anxiety. When Harry was a small child and his neurological condition came to light, there was this sort of unspoken arrangement between mom and dad; Felix would be the bread winner while Ella would manage their son's condition and day to day living.  To say the relationship between father and son was strained would be a small understatement.  Not because dad didn't want a relationship rather it was hard to connect with him given the circumstances. However, I liked Harry's character, he tried to be independent, had good insight into his condition while managing himself and his emotions well. Despite his challenges he manages to have a relatively normal life with friends and the all too familiar teenage angst.  

Ella is doting, loving, fierce, strong and determined as a mother.  It's very evident how hard she works with Harry and how much she loves him. She's always anxious to be away from Harry but she must travel to take care of her father who has injured himself.  Ella is on her way home from her father's when tragedy strikes.  And it throws everyone's life into a tailspin. 

In the beginning of the story we don't get much of Felix.  The picture that is painted of him is that of a cold and uncaring man who's only concerned with money and work.  Once Ella's tragedy strikes it throws Felix into this situation with his son that really leaves them no choice but to learn to live with each other.   And  this is when the warm and fuzzy feelings come about and you witness a father and son grow into their relationship.   It was so heartwarming and satisfying! 

While I enjoyed the story and the writing, there were a few things I felt could have been better explained.  For instance, there wasn't too much backstory on Ella's jewelry making although it's mentioned a few times throughout the book.  While there were hints of genetics from dad's side contributing to Harry's condition, it's merely brushed over.  it left me questioning how/if  Felix's upbringing contributed to Harry's condition at all or if dad had any inkling of his own quirks?  These were some of the questions I had while reading the novel however it didn't stop me from liking this book at all. 

Overall, The Perfect Son is a heartfelt and heartwarming story about family and over coming obstacles.  It highlighted choosing family over circumstance and the love parents have for their children and the love children have for their parents.   I really enjoyed the writing and will be looking into more works by this author. 

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