Zoe Maisey is the perfect girl. Or she was, before the accident that nearly killed her, and killed three of her friends that were in the car that Zoe was driving. She’s the main character in Gilly Macmillan’s The Perfect Girl. She’s 17 years old, and this drastically changes her life, and the lives of her parents. The story is told from the perspective of several different characters, including Zoe, her aunt, and Zoe’s lawyer Sam. It’s meant to be a page turner, though I found it sort of tedious turning those pages. From the very beginning it was hard to connect or even get interested in the characters.
Zoe had been a talented and accomplished piano player, though the accident and its aftermath stalled her practice, she was able to get back to playing. The story starts with one of her performances in which one of the fathers of one of the kids who died in the accident shows up and disrupts the recital. This is jarring, and though the recital continues, it brings up so much unresolved anger and hurt. She was only 14 when the accident happened, and obviously unable to drive legally, and had only done so to impress some of the more popular kids at her school. Though considered a prodigy, she still struggled to fit in at school, a struggle most teenagers experience. Further alienating her from her peers at school was her scholarship at a prestigious private school, where everyone seemed to think she didn’t belong.
The same evening her recital is interrupted, her mother mysteriously dies. This isn’t a spoiler, it is revealed in the first couple of chapters. The mystery unfolds in the rest of the book. Though the story is told from multiple perspectives, I think in this switching around the narrative is kind of lost.
In the end there is sympathy evoked for Zoe. People don’t exist in this dichotomy of either all good or all bad. She’s somewhere in the middle. She is of course changed by these two major events, and seems to have some sort of redemption at the end of the book. I really wanted to like the story, and to like her, but it was just hard to. Her story was a good one, and I can so relate to trying something crazy just to fit in. But no one else in her life (from whom the story is also told through their various perspectives) seems likable. The story starts out at a fast pace, but but I got lost pretty quick. I have heard praise for Macmillan’s other book What She Knew, and I just might give that one a try! I love a good thriller, but with this one I wasn’t exactly thrilled.