Synopsis: Treasure’s dad has disappeared and her mom sets out to track him down, leaving twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister, Tiffany, in small-town Virginia with their eccentric, dictatorial Great-Aunt Grace. GAG (as the girls refer to her) is a terrible cook, she sets off Treasure’s asthma with her cat and her chain smoking, and her neighbors suspect her in the recent jewel thefts. As the hope of finding their dad fades, the girls and their great-aunt begin to understand and accommodate one another. When a final dash to their dad’s last known address proves unsuccessful, Treasure has to accept that he’s gone for good. When she goes back to Great-Aunt Grace’s, it is the first time she has returned to a place instead of just moving on. Convincing, fully realized characters, a snarky narrative voice, and laugh-aloud funny dialogue make The Perfect Place a standout among stories of adjustment and reconfigured families.
Huge thank you to Clarion Books and Netgalley for this ARC!
I really wanted to like this book more than I did, and the beginning did keep me invested. But once I’d put the book down, I found I never found myself going back to it. I’d read a chapter… once a week? There’s just something about this book that just never took hold of my full attention.
Truth be told, The Perfect Place is a decent novel, but it’s one that really depends on the reader’s participation and whether or not they enjoy a lot of the challenges that are faced by Treasure and Tiffany. Thing is, both Treasure and Tiffany are wonderfully sympathetic characters, but I guess for me I was expecting a bit more than a lot of woes me. However, I found the characters pretty flat, with the exception of Auntie Grace, who for whatever reason I quite enjoyed. She was a bit too religious for my tastes, but she won me over when she dealt with the mean girls within the story. That, admittedly, was brilliantly done.
Then there’s the writing. It’s good, but nothing fantastic and in fact, it’s quite ordinary and plain. The writing was at it’s best when it was slathered in emotion, but at its worse when exposition was happening. I DO adore the fact that this is a diverse novel with two African-American heroines and I loved that they do persevere, but I wanted more from this story, and considering it took awhile for me to get into it, and to the point where I kept forgetting about it? That just isn’t a good sign for me.
I think a lot of the messages in this novel are great and I do think that this book will be quite loved by a reader who can instantly connect with Treasure and her family. For me, I wanted that connection, it’s just a shame (for me) that it never took hold. This is a good book (hence three starts), but I needed more of a solid connection between me, the characters and the writing. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as well as I wanted it to.