Less Than Perfect by Ber Carroll

April 1, 2011

Pan Macillian Australia

370 pages

4 out of 5 stars

Less than Perfect is a book that has so much going for it. The writing is superb – as I have come to expect from Ber Carroll – and flawless. Although the contents are deep/dark and at times traumatic, the flow and feeling of the writing is effortless, meaning that before I even realised, I was more than halfway through the book. I was just that absorbed in both the characters and the plot that time seemed to fade away, however cliché as it might sound.

Less than Perfect is told in three parts effectively, all of which revolve around three major turning points in the main protagonists life. The book opens with newly eighteen year old Caitlin O’Reilly describing the first time she meets her future love – Josh, her older brother’s friend – and their relationship; it’s highs and lows and its unexpected and equally traumatic end when an explosion kills Josh. Desperately alone (family is falling apart around her), and struggling to come to terms with the events, Caitlin flees her hometown in Ireland and moves as far as way as she can imagine – to Australia wherein Caitlin is desperate to not only outrun her past and its grief, but also her family and her own failures/short-comings in life. Part two of the narrative focuses around Caitlin’s life in Melbourne some ten-eleven years post bombing where Caitlin has a great job, a few close friends and has recently started up a relationship with a local cop named Matthew. The final part of the story comes about when Caitlin’s perfectly crafted and protected life (she is very strict on her views of what is and can happen and only allows certain aspects of her life to mingle – i.e. Matthew has never met her housemate, nor her friends. Nor do anyone involved in her life throughout part two know much, if anything about her past) falls apart. Having faced a fatal blow Caitlin is forced to re-evaluate her life, her goals, and her priorities.

Overall the story is well worth a read, as its not only well-placed but the characters are so real and honest (even if they may not be with themselves) that they will suck you in to their world in no time at all.

Given the Irish background of the author, and the events and content explored psychological and their emotional impacts on the people there, family ties and relationships in general, I couldn’t help but think and draw parallels to Maureen McCarthy’s When I Wake and Find You Gone (one of, if not, my All Time Favourite book) and was delighted to find it did not disappoint in comparison. Thus I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read that in the past and found themselves, like me, totally enthralled by the culture, the people (even if they are fictional) and the circumstances surrounding some of Ireland’s more famous past.

Review originally posted on Goodreads July 31, 2012, amended due to a spelling mistake later on but can still be found at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/379357537

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