At fourteen, Zoe Guerin, a musical prodigy, was bullied by the kids at the school she attended as a scholarship student. In an attempt to fit in, she reacts to a dare and takes the driver’s seat after a party. An accident, with Zoe driving, led to the deaths of her three teenage passengers.
Now, three years later, she is performing in a new venue, trying to thrive in her Second Chance Life, with her mother Maria and stepfather, a step-brother Lucas, and a baby sister Grace. Chris, her stepfather, does not know about Zoe’s life in Devon. In the new life in Bristol, with her new name, Zoe Maisey, she has another chance.
But somehow, secrets always have a way of getting out, and something happens that night during the performance that will bring Zoe’s secrets to light. And before the night is over, her mother will be dead.
The Perfect Girl was a multi-layered tale of the various secrets, lies, and hidden moments that make up the lives of the characters. Multiple narrators show us each character’s particular view on events, including some of what actually happened to cause Zoe to crash that car. Why did her blood alcohol test high when she didn’t recall drinking anything? And how did the testimony of the bullies seal her fate?
Most of the characters had flaws and some were quite unlikeable. I felt more sympathetic toward Zoe, but just when I wanted to root for her, she would do something questionable, or her mind would follow some pathway that would make me doubt her. In the end, a decision she makes changes everything; can something wrong make a right?
I definitely disliked Chris, with his attitudes, his cold eyes, and the mean words he shouted. How did a script written by his genius son Lucas convey something meaningful, that Zoe would read and come to use to help make a decision? What would be the significance of Zoe’s conclusions about the script in light of what happened to her mother?
Other characters, like Tessa, Maria’s sister; her husband Richard, with his alcohol problems; and Sam, the solicitor who helped Zoe with her case…all added something to the story, making it impossible to put down. A book that made me think about family dynamics and the issues that can lead to wrong choices, and what must happen to turn things right again. 5 stars.