Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
Published: 10 July 2012 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352 (hardcover)
Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Road Trip
Source: Own library
Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.
There are several reasons why I was drawn to this book. Firstly, the main characters are brother and sister, which is something that isn't often intimately explored in Young Adult literature. I'm the only girl of four children, so sister relationships are foreign to me, but brother-sister relationships are something I know pretty well and I was interested to see how Brown would portray the relationship between Grayson and Kendra. Add in a road-trip (hello!), and Grayson's OCD, and I was totally intrigued to see how this story played out.
Perfect Escape is my first experience with Jennifer Brown, and I have to say I was pretty impressed. I liked her free-flowing style, and even though contemporary YA is not my usual genre, I really enjoyed the plot and the characters.
The plot itself is pretty straightforward - Kendra makes a huge mistake and with her brother suffering from the limitations of his OCD, she makes an uncharacteristically rash decision to just drive as far away from her personal and family issues. At first, she doesn't really have a plan, but one forms as she makes her way across the state, and without telling Grayson the real reason, she keeps on driving towards California.
What I loved most about Perfect Escape was undoubtedly the relationships between the characters. Although Grayson and Kendra had their issues, they also supported each other the best way that they knew how - whether it was the right way or not, it was done with sibling love rather than personal motivations. There are also other characters that they meet along the way, and one in particular I found fascinating and my only quibble with her was that I didn't feel like her story was explored in enough depth. But in the end, this is a book about Kendra and Grayson, and the secondary characters aren't really supposed to steal the limelight.
I've read several books with characters suffering from OCD, and I found that Perfect Escape was pretty much on par with those other books - and I particularly liked that Kendra and Grayson were open about the effect that OCD was having on both their lives, their relationship and their family.
There is absolutely not a scrap of romance in Perfect Escape, and I loved it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of a good romance, but it's nice to read a YA novel that doesn't rely on flirtation or a cute boy to get the plot moving and open up the characters.
I really enjoyed Perfect Escape - it's a great mix of road-trip and family relationships and I found it easy to read, compelling and satisfying.