The Perfect Childby Lucinda Berry Published 01 Mar 2019
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|Publisher||Thomas & Mercer|
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A page-turning debut of suspense about a young couple desperate to have a child of their own—and the unsettling consequences of getting what they always wanted.
Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.
But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.
Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.
"The Perfect Child" Reviews
I’m okay with not having a happy ending, but an ENDING would be nice. I feel like the book ended in what should have been the end of a chapter.
Good book, although I found the husband, Christopher, INFURIATING.
I'm not sure I've ever read such a crazy, intense, non-stop, haunting, anxiety producing novel...but only in the best and most desirable way. I didn't want it to end.
Once this book has you in it's grips, it won't let go. I started it this morning and literally could not put it down. My poor husband probably feels deprived.
Having received The Perfect Child free as a Kindle First February option, I honestly didn't have high expectations. These freebie books are hit or miss for me. Sometimes they're decent, sometimes they absolutely stink, and sometimes, they slowly mesmerize you with their intensity and unparalleled chaos.
The Perfect Child was like that...I was absolutely mesmerized. The characters, particularly Hannah, were so beautifully tragic...she felt very real to me. I could relate so very much to her feelings, her anxieties...virtually everything. Having said that, at times I also felt frustrated, primarily with Christopher. His choices and actions were questionable, even during the best of times. But the character who had my jaw dropping at virtually every turn of the page was Janie. HOLY COW! I don't want to say much for fear of giving anything away, but Janie may be the best "villain" I've read in years. Little girl was beyond vile!
Is the story a bit predictable? I'd say yes, which is why I didn't give it a full 5 stars. One of the main threads was incredibly obvious to me, but that took nothing away from the story-line. And there were a couple twists which shocked me...not necessarily because they were unexpected, but because of how they actually occurred. There is also some animal torture/death, which is another deduction for me. I HATE animal torture in any book. Fair warning.
I can't end this review without making the obvious comparisons to Baby Teeth. Clearly, Lucinda Berry was somewhat inspired by the Zoje Stage novel. There are many similar threads throughout...but the stories diverge enough to make them each incredibly readable in their own ways.
I'm a fan, fellow readers. I haven't checked to see if this is Ms. Berry's first novel or not, but she has definitely become a must read author in my eyes. I'll be thinking about this novel for a long, long time.
After years of infertility Dr Christopher Bauer and his wife Hannah, a nurse, gave up the idea of having a biological child. When abandoned and battered six-year-old Janie winds up in the ER, they decide to adopt her. Despite warnings from professionals that Janie trauma will take years to heal, if it ever does, the Bauers feel they are equipped. Then somebody dies.
Readers don’t know who the murder victim(s) is (or are) until near the end of THE PERFECT CHILD. Told from the first person points of view of Chris, Hannah and Janie’s social worker, readers are taken through the precarious road of Janie’s adoption. Lucinda Berry hit all the right notes with the behaviors of a child with reactive attachment disorder so I wasn’t surprised to learn she’s a psychologist. Berry was particularly accurate with one parent minimizing Janie’s behavior, the other with two high expectations to create a perfect scenario for Janie to manipulate and triangulate the parents. I couldn’t be angry with Christopher for thinking Hannah exaggerated because kids like Janie are just as Berry described, manipulative as a coping mechanism to try to control their environments in order to feel safe.
I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a free monthly Amazon book as much as THE PERFECT CHILD. I immediately ordered all of Berry’s other books, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the next one. Some readers may find the story unbelievable, but sadly it’s not. Reactive Attachment Disorder can be as extreme as Janie’s behavior, though fortunately usually isn’t quite as tragic. Usually seen in kids who never attach to a primary caregiver, often infants in orphanages or with parents who don’t respond to their needs, neglected to the point where they can only count on themselves. They both crave and fear attachment, often overly friendly with strangers and violent with those closest, the disorder is heartbreaking.
THE PERFECT CHILD is unputdownable psychological thriller and family tragedy.
"We'd like to think a mother and father's love can turn everything around, but there are times where parents do the very best they can, but the kid- even from the get-go - is just a bad kid ... Ignore the problem, and we could have blood on our hands." Adrian Raine, psychologist (University of Pennsylvania).
After years of infertility, Christopher, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Hannah, a nurse, have given up on having a biological child. While they are looking into adoption, a severely abused and malnourished little girl called Jamie is admitted to the hospital where they work. Christopher is on Jamie's surgical team and immediately falls in love with the surprisingly affectionate and outgoing six-year-old. Since the feeling is mutual, he begs Hannah to meet Jamie. The bond between the two of them isn't as immediate or as strong, nevertheless Hannah agrees to foster Jamie until a suitable adoptive family can be found. This is anything but easy: Jamie is prone to horrendous tantrums that can last for hours, she isn't potty trained, and rarely sleeps. It is no wonder that Hannah is reluctant to agree when Christopher wants to adopt Jamie. Furthermore, Hannah has to relinquish her dream of adopting a baby. Still, she loves her husband and gets immense satisfaction from seeing Jamie thrive in the loving environment they are providing. After a short internal battle, she agrees to give the damaged little girl a forever home.
Things improve - until Christopher returns to work. Hannah is hurt and frustrated when Jamie starts ignoring her completely. To add insult to injury, the bond between Jamie and Christopher keeps deepening, and Jamie is sweet and charming towards just about anyone but Hannah. The one person she doesn't take to is Piper, the social worker assigned to her case. Hannah longs to return to work, but Jamie acts out at every school they enrol her in, eventually breaking her "friend's" arm. Matters go from bad to terrifying when Hannah miraculously falls pregnant...
The book begins with a bang: an interview between Piper, a homicide detective, and a mysterious private investigator. I couldn't help but read until 2 am, I simply had to know who had been murdered. Reading the story was like witnessing a fatal accident: you realise this is going to be awful, you want to look away, yet your eyes remain glued to the unfolding horror. Hannah, Christopher and Piper - all POV characters - are caring, relatable people. I even bonded with Jamie. Yes, she was a ticking time bomb, but she had been through so much. Maybe love would triumph in the end?
I highly recommend The Perfect Child to readers who enjoy psychological suspense. It is a scary, poignant exploration of the nature/nurture debate. The fact that the author is an expert in no way detracts from the twistedness of the tale. On the contrary! Berry has shot to the upper rungs of my favourite-authors ladder and I'm pretty tempted to go straight to another of her books.
Warning: Steer clear if you are sensitive to child- and animal abuse.
This may contain spoilers, but this book left me with a lot of thoughts and feelings.
This sh*t was bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
I started reading it on my lunch break on Monday and finished it a few hours later. I could not put it down, because I just had to figure out what the heck was happening! The story is told from three points of view. Christopher and Hannah (our main characters) and the child protective services lady, Piper. Christopher's character is absolutely infuriating, it amazed me how vain he was, the level of disrespect he had for his wife. My heart broke for Hannah and the amount of crap she had to deal with. How she tried her best to love a difficult child, how devoted she was to her marriage and how she was completely alone to deal with a sociopath and no believed her. It was gut wrenching to see that she lost her mind in a psychotic breakdown because she honestly couldn't do it anymore and her husband didn't have her back. Pipers character, good lord woman how naive can one person be? I wanted to reach through the book and slap her more than once. How she didn't believe a child could be so evil and that they all deserve a happy home at no matter the cost. Infuriating! Janie character made me think a lot of the Orphan, except she wasn't an adult in a child's body. She is vile and completely unlovable. She is the type of child that nightmares are made of and showed all the signs of a future serial killer that no one but Hannah picked up on. She is manipulative and hurts people. One very disturbing part was how she treated the kitten. Which also lead to me to wonder, why they let her keep the kitten after she initially hurt it in the first place? Did they not think she would do worse? Well, she did (and this was exceptionally disturbing to read)! UGH!!!
The book just ends too. There is no closure and definitely no happy ending. It is left open for there to be another book if the author so desires. I do not feel that there is a need for a continuation of this book. It left me feeling like I needed therapy and no amount of meditation last night was able to soothe me enough to get a good nights rest. I even dreamt about some of the things in the book. This book was highly disturbing and gave me the creeps.
There was a knock on the door, I peeped behind the curtains to see who it was then I didn't bother to write a review after all.