Review: Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

Quick review for quick read. So a few confessions on my read of “Perfect Escape” – I read this book in a matter of a 2 hour marathon reading session and it was a random read I picked up from my library. I loved the other books I’d read from Jennifer Brown, so “Perfect Escape” was a definite pick up for me for the author as well as the promise of a roadtrip family story with coming of age leanings and a character with a disability (OCD).

Yet, the story itself didn’t hit me as hard as I would’ve liked despite knowing the direction it was going. Even after turning the final page – despite many tied ends with respect to the conflicts and resolutions – something about the read left me wanting more, particularly with the major betrayals Kendra makes in the course of the narrative. The long and short of “Perfect Escape” is about Kendra, a young woman pressured to be perfect in a family that seems overrun by tending to the needs of Kendra’s brother, Grayson. She feels left out and pressure to be the one without issues or flaws. Kendra’s deeply involved in a cheating scam (among other things) that threatens to upend the perfect future she’s worked, so she grabs Grayson and the two of them go on an impromptu road trip. Grayson is heavily opposed to the trip on several levels, but he goes along for the ride despite not knowing his sister’s motivations.

In a sense, Kendra tries to make this road trip a means to an end: to help her brother, to reclaim a part of her past that she lost, to have experiences she hasn’t had before. It’s a coming of age tale and sibling story that I appreciated on several levels, though I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly fond of Kendra’s character (Grayson, however, I liked following through the whole narrative). I also applauded the novel for showing Grayson’s OCD tendencies in a realistic manner, showcasing his struggles/sentiments and giving him a prominent voice to speak from. I think Kendra ultimately learns through the course of the novel that she can’t “fix” him nor can she escape her life or reclaim the past as she once experienced it. Yet it still felt like the novel didn’t have the same gut punch that Brown’s other narratives like “Hate List” and “A Thousand Words” had for me after turning the final page. Still, it’s a narrative that I think should be taken for what it offers – I liked following the road journey of Kendra, Grayson, and even Rena and baby Bo for the parts they were featured in. I just wish that some of the coming to terms and plot threads could’ve been tied up a bit better.

Overall rating: 3/5 stars.


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