The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks/Harper Audio
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (464 pages/audio 9 hours 34 minutes)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.

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It’s not often you get a chance at a fresh start and that’s why Zoe Maisey is doing everything she can to be the perfect girl. She doesn’t want to be the one who destroys the second chance family after all. But what do you do when your past catches up to you?

Zoe was definitely my favorite character. She made a horrible mistake – one that cost three teens their lives – but she was young and I honestly think she was drugged or given alcohol she wasn’t aware of drinking. Despite all that, she really does feel guilty and has made solid efforts to become a better person. She knows that, even if she’s not at fault, she’s going to always be the first suspect due to her history.

The others didn’t make as much of an impression on me. Sam seemed to be a bit of an afterthought as he never really gets involved in Maria’s death. Tess isn’t too bad and I did like her more as we moved through the story, but she does make some questionable choices. Lucas’ relationship with Zoe is better than most step-siblings. You know he’s been through some tough things with how well he and Zoe get along, and it’s great that they had the support of the other in this. Chris bugged me from the very beginning, but I think a lot of that had to do with the way Maria was constantly micromanaging Zoe so that Chris wasn’t put out.

The idea of a second chance family – one where everyone gets a fresh start – is a good one. Maria and Zoe want to move past Zoe’s accident. Chris and Lucas want to move on from the death of Lucas’ mom. But what wasn’t great was Maria’s pushing Zoe to hide everything and maintain this ideal of the perfect family. Families aren’t perfect. Even the best ones are messy at times.

While I’m not generally a fan of novels told in the first person point of view, in an audiobook it seems to work better for me. Although, I did find myself talking back to the car stereo more often but I’m not sure if that’s because of the characters or the POV. The male narrator, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, had a soothing, pleasant voice and the way he voiced both Sam and Lucas was enjoyable. The female narrator, Penelope Rawlins, however, did a much better job of making you think that there were two separate narrators. It actually took me several alternating points of view before I realized there was one person for both Zoe and her aunt, Tess.

The Perfect Girl is an engaging story full of hidden secrets and lies of omission. Although it has a bit of a slow start, once the author gets the ball rolling, it doesn’t stop until the end. The ending was a bit of a cliché, but for once, I fully agreed with its use. Seemed like the perfect way to end it, in my opinion. I’ll be anxious to check out other books by this author soon.

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