Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Perfect Escape - Jennifer Brown

Perfect Escape - Jennifer Brown
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Source/Format: Borrowed from Magan (Thank you!) || ARC

Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.

Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past. (modified from Goodreads)

I had my first encounter with Jennifer Brown's work in Perfect Escape. The story is simple, easy, and a steady read from start to finish. Brown expertly handles the dynamic between the siblings, all while weaving in lighthearted, standout moments during their impromptu road trip. But what really packed an emotional punch was coming to care about the characters – Kendra and her older brother Grayson, in particular.  

Kendra felt like a real teenager, in spite of the unusual situation with her brother. Her problems and emotions all seemed like things that would naturally happen to someone in her situation, and I liked that a lot. Brown did a great job of helping the reader understand why Kendra does or says certain things. It couldn’t have been easy growing up like she did, taking care of her older brother and feeling coerced into being the perfect achiever to make up for his faults. The crazy riot of emotions and desires that Kendra experiences definitely made sense to me, even as I was frustrated with her, and it’s written very, very effectively.

I found myself truly fascinated by Grayson. His OCD was clearly displayed multiple times, including habits that reflected extreme versions of some of my own. It’s also very obvious that he’s suffering because of his condition. It cannot be easy to suffer from something that you can’t control or explain to others, and it broke my heart every time he was singled out or ostracized. Brown does allow the reader to feel proud of him, as she allows us to witness his attempts to work through his condition. I ended the book feeling supremely proud of Grayson, and completely attached to his character as if he were my own brother.

There’s a road trip in the story, and Brown liberally sprinkles it with interesting people and randomly wonderful moments. (And you all know that I adore a road trip in my books!) But what really interested me about the novel is the relationship between Kendra and Grayson. Readers will bear witness to who these two happen to be as individuals at this point in their lives, even as they realize it for themselves. As if that weren’t already intriguing enough, Brown also allows us to see how the two of them learn to see the other person. Her exploration is subtle, but she paints a very real picture of what sibling relationships are like – and this alone is worth reading the book for. I adore reading about siblings, so I considered this aspect a total treat!

I really liked Perfect Escape, if you can’t tell. I didn’t just enjoy the interesting story that Brown had to tell; I fell in love with Kendra and Grayson. The characters became real to me as I read, and that obviously helped tip the scales in a positive direction for this book. Brown handles the story of these siblings so well! I look forward to reading more of her work, including Thousand Words.

7 comments:

  1. Yes! I loved this book, too. I think Jennifer Brown did a great job of weaving mental illness into the story in a respectful and superb way. I really enjoyed Thousand Words as well and can't wait to hear what you think of that one!

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  2. OHHHH!!! I want to read this! So glad you loved it!!

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  3. Oh a sibling book! I am such a softie for books where the "main" relationship is between siblings, especially big brothers. :) *adds to TBR mountain*

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  4. I'm not sure I've seen a bad thing said about Jennifer Brown's work. My first book by her was Thousand Words and I really liked it (I think you will too). I am still quite astounded by how she tackled such a tough topic. And it sounds like she did it again here in Perfect Escape, and I've heard similar compliments about Hate List. I definitely want to read both of these. She's extremely talented.

    This was a great review!

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  5. OH wow, this sounds really, really interesting! I'm always interested in books that deal with mental illness because I just feel for the characters and the subject is so interesting. I think it's great to write about to just make people aware, if nothing else. I definitely want to check this one out! AND! Siblings!!!

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  6. I have mixed feelings about road trip stories so that was part of the reason for my hesitancy in picking up this book-I like your review though so I'm considering putting it on my list.

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  7. Oh this sounds really interesting, Alexa! I love that it focuses on siblings and road trips. Those are two things I really enjoy reading about! I'm also curious about the OCD element. Sounds like this was a winner for you! I'll have to check it out if I ever spot it at the library.

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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