The book was provided as an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review
This book features the following topics/genres – Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Mystery
Publisher’s release date: 28 July 2021
You know when you see those TV shows or movies where someone is walking through a random house, and there are photos of the family all over the walls? I imagine the Adler family had photos like that on their walls, hiding the cracks underneath, keeping up the facade. The Perfect Family is my first Robyn Harding book, and I’m bookmarking her other books to read as well. So yes, this book was a satisfying and entertaining read.
On the surface, the Adler family seem perfect, living in their beautiful house with their beautiful garden and their beautiful children. But perfection is a lie. This is the “idea” we are given to think about by Robyn’s introduction to the woman of the house, Viv Adler. One by one, the Adler family are introduced and eventually, their dark secrets are brought to the forefront in a deliciously intricate way. Robyn Harding is exceptional at building intrigue and providing just enough detail before moving onto the next family member.
The main gist of the book is the Adler family seem perfect on the surface, but as you read on, you realise they are anything but. Each Adler has their own dirty secret, some dirtier and uglier than others. Morals and ethics come into play and the claustrophobic way each character suffers through their personal pain. Sometimes you feel like you want to lend a hand and reach out, and other times you almost want them to suffer. It’s incredible work on behalf of the author to somehow turn these questions onto the reader. “What would you do if you were in this situation?” Thankfully, most people in the real world wouldn’t experience as much turmoil in their lives as the Adlers, but their suffering seems real enough, but perhaps their reactions, not entirely so.
While I am not a huge fan of reading each character’s point of view as separate chapters, this structure works incredibly well for The Perfect Family. The deeper you descend into each character, the more you want to see (or not, as the case may be).
The Adler family are Viv (the wife), Thomas (the husband), Eli (the son) and Tarryn (the daughter). Robyn’s descriptions are concise, and you will soon have an image in your head of how each member of the Adler family would look and, eventually, how they will act. This is the tricky bit of the book because each family member has their own drama going on. Some of it is predictable, and some of it is weird and twisted, which of course, is the type of stuff that makes a good thriller. You want to be excited about something you know nothing about, and you want these characters to give you the pieces to their crazy, twisted puzzle. And as with every book you read, you will begin to draw comparisons to each family member and eventually come up with one you favour above the others. Or you may feel supportive towards whoever is causing this family to disintegrate from within.
Animated book cover by me. Like what you see? Hire me to animate your book cover!
The Adler’s nightmare begins with a little innocent “egg-throwing” against the house. And the Adler’s don’t really think too much of it. The abuse against their house continues and becomes more and more aggressive and dangerous. It eventually gets to the point where each of the Adler’s is either blaming themselves for what is happening to their family or blaming one another. The book’s pacing is critical during these events because it helps to build tension and uneasiness in the reader.
Each ugly event is described in detail by the author, so it’s a lot easier to imagine what is happening and what it would look like to an outsider looking in. It’s just enough detail to keep you intrigued and to keep turning those pages.
The Adler family seem extremely dysfunctional, and you’re looking for something good to happen once you get closer to the end of the book. Something has to give; it can’t all be this bad, can it? Robyn feeds you little sprinkles of hope that you cling onto until the very end. But you’re not given any clues as to how things will pan out. “Will they or won’t they make it?”
The only slightly minor annoyance with the book is the ending. While the main twist doesn’t seem too predictable, it feels that way, as if you knew in the back of your mind. There are several of these twists in the book, most of them minor but still important to the story’s progression.
Robyn Harding’s The Perfect Family is a well-written gem of a book that will fit in right next to other big hitters in the thriller genre, such as Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Gone Girl.
Book Cover Art – The book cover is incredibly detailed. It may not look that way, but as you look closely at the topography, you can see slight “glitches” or smudges over some of the letters making the words imperfect and flawed – just as the Adlers are in the book. And of course, the house is, well, the place where everything plays out. It is the stage where the Adler family will eventually falter. But will they ever recover? Read the book and find out!