By: Barbara Claypole White
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
From a distance, Felix Fitzwilliam, the son of an old English family, is a good husband and father. But, obsessed with order and routine, he’s a prisoner to perfection. Disengaged from the emotional life of his North Carolina family, Felix has let his wife, Ella, deal with their special-needs son by herself.
A talented jewelry designer turned full-time mother, Ella is the family rock…until her heart attack shatters their carefully structured existence. Now Harry, a gifted teen grappling with the chaos of Tourette’s, confronts a world outside his parents’ control, one that tests his desire for independence.
As Harry searches for his future, and Ella adapts to the limits of her failing health, Felix struggles with his past and present roles. To prevent the family from being ripped apart, they must each bend with the inevitability of change and reinforce the ties that bind.
About the Author
English born and educated, Barbara Claypole White lives in the North Carolina forest with her family. Inspired by her poet/musician son’s courageous battles against obsessive-compulsive disorder, Barbara writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Her debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and The In-Between Hour was chosen by SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers) as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick. Her third novel, The Perfect Son, has a publication date of July 1st, 2015.
For more information, or to connect with Barbara, please visit: Website Twitter Goodreads.
A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Gifted and talented writer, Barbara Claypole White delivers a poignant and complex story of a flawed yet remarkable family, THE PERFECT SON --unglued from life’s tragedies. A journey of finding their way back to some sense of normal; while facing their own imperfections with the help of one another, love, family, friends, and a compassionate neighbor. Stepping outside your comfort zone!
A heart-warming story, of love--Ella and Felix met while she fainted in his arms on the tube in London years before. Later she returns to the US and reunites with Felix, and years later marrying and settling in the states in Durham, NC with son Harry. Cultured rigid non-emotion England, meets laid-back, social Southern style NC (now this brings humor and entertainment, in itself).
Felix, the father has many issues, baggage and emotional damage from his abused childhood; he is scarred, anxious, fearful, and a rigid perfectionist, and OCD to the max! He is a prisoner inside his own body. His life revolves about order, perfection, demands, rules, lists, and making sure he is financially responsible for the care of his family, providing nothing but the best. As an investment banker, he is a workaholic and leaves the domestic issues to his wife. His gay brother Tom, whom he loved dearly which came to his side often as a boy, died with AIDS, and he misses his presence terribly.
Ella, wife and mother, a former successful jewelry designer, is loving, caring, and a perfect match for Felix. She is the rock, the anchor, supporting the family and Felix relies on her to care for their neurological son’s needs. Harry has Tourette syndrome (TS), an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics, with other emotional and disruptive behavior.
Harry is funny, witty, carefree and loves his mom. He is brilliant with almost perfect score on SAT, and his dad lives for him to attend Harvard to follow the path he has set forth. Harry also likes routine, but not so much in the order and perfectionist category like his dad. They butt heads quite often, and his mom is always in the middle to smooth the rough edges, between the two. Harry is highly intelligent, now a junior in high school, with a fun trustworthy and loyal friend Max. He is not good in social settings and his behavior grinds on his dad’s nerves. His dad has no patience and he is unable to deal with more than a few moments alone with his son.
When tragedy occurs, with Ella-a heart attack, the entire family falls apart, shattering piece by piece. While Ella is recovering, both father have to find a way to manage, cope, and survive without Ella's help. They are beyond distraught. How will these two survive without killing one another? Who will take care of Harry’s needs?
The father and son go through some horrific, rough times on their journey to finding their way back. They may find strength in one another, with the help of witty, lesbian southern friend and neighbor, Kathrine, and best friend Max.
With viewpoints and voices from each, we hear from Ella, Felix, and Harry for a riveting and emotional journey, of learning to let go, embracing change, and learning to really live—giving up control, old ways, and opening your heart, mind, and soul, while discovering the real meaning of life, and at the same time, find unexpected fulfillment, hope, and joy.
Wow, Barbara writes with compassion, and sensitivity mixed with humor, as these two tightly-wound males struggle with neurological and emotional issues, fighting their way to the top, grasping for air for an emotional roller-coaster ride. Beautiful writing and prose, for a thought-provoking tale of family, struggles, and survival. The character development was stellar, and White skillfully crafts and weaves you through emotional highs and lows with intensity and suspense.
In addition to the ARC copy, I also purchased the audiobook, and the narrator, Justine Eyre delivers an outstanding performance with very distinct voices of Felix, Harry, Ella, Kathrine, Max, wise neighbor, Eudora. Not every often do you find a narrator with this wide range of voices. From Southern to British, and hip and funny Max and Harry – "Splendid!"
Highly recommend, and looking forward to reading more from this talented author.
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