Publication Date: September 7, 2014
Carol is a people pleaser who wants nothing more than to be seen as the perfect girl. To the outside world, her quest is going well but Carol’s world is something of a mess. Can this people pleaser realize that she’s far from pleasing the one person she should—herself—and change her path?
I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
‘I’ve reviewed two of Michele Gorman’s novels and enjoyed them thoroughly (click here to read my reviews). “[easyazon_link asin=”1495425754″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Expat Diaries: Single in the City[/easyazon_link] made Rabid Readers Best of 2014 List. As much as I enjoyed these two works by the talented Gorman, the same cannot be said for [easyazon_link asin=”1501099337″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Perfect Girl[/easyazon_link]. While technically Gorman’s writing is on point, as usual, the characters were a study in extremes.
I should preface this review by saying that the hit Fox show “New Girl” annoys the heck out of me. While the eccentric charm of Sophie Kinsella’s characters, and some of Gorman’s former characters are entertaining, Carol aka [easyazon_link asin=”1501099337″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Perfect Girl[/easyazon_link]s a mess and is such in a way that some readers will find endearing but I find infuriating. Carol is a chronic people pleaser and because of that allows everyone to use and abuse her for their convenience and for her illusion of having coming off as something she really wants to be but clearly is not— perfect. While readers of this review will say “Well, yeah…no one is perfect,” Carol is delusional and while wanting to head for her goal, could not be more destructive for her own sense of well-being and peace much in the same way as Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones character. Carol may be a character with whom some readers identify, but she’s also one that others (like this reader) would want to slap.
There were moments of humor on the heels of Carol’s thoroughly horrible family and her attempts at a social life to lighten the tone of Carol’s oppression. I found the frequent laughs again reminiscent of Fielding. Carol is not a copy of Bridget, but there’s a general sameness of flavor and Carol’s self-sacrifice in the face of a goal read with the same futility as Bridget’s diary.
The people that plague Carol are the ultimate in thoughtlessness, but she’s grateful for the crumbs. Ben, her boyfriend, is shallowly adoring and dismissive at the same time. On a special night she meets him while he’s having a drink with friends and once she serves the purpose of helping him win a trivia bet, he gives her shallow praise and then turns back to his true focus while Carol adoringly daydreams about how much he loves and admires her. Immediately after her success with Ben, her mind travels back to a time when she let her family down by misspelling a word. Her value in the situation is her intelligence but what about when she’s not so smart and that will happen, won’t it? Life will be rough when you’re trying to be everyone’s everything. When the inevitable happens with Ben, her anger comes off as more ineffectually pissy at his treatment of her than truly anger driven. While the confrontation of Ben starts the ball rolling toward Carol’s realization of the awfulness of everyone she knows, there’s no real sense that she will be a changed and healthier Carol a few years after the book ends.
You’ll note that earlier in this review I likened the book and characters to another book and television show that I hate but are huge hits. These sort of unfocused and trod-upon characters are a matter of taste and they simply are not to mine. If you like Bridget Jones and Jess of “New Girl,” you will probably adore [easyazon_link asin=”1501099337″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Perfect Girl[/easyazon_link]. It simply wasn’t for me. Pick it up and be sure to let me know what you think.
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