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Book Review: Perfect by Harry Kraus, M.D.

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Wendy Stratford wants out of what she calls her “perfect plastic” life. She’s tired of her perfect blond hair, her perfectly successful, surgeon husband, and her perfect Christian life. She wants a chance to have a real life, so she devises a plan to carry on an affair in Jamaica with her piano teacher, Chris.

All is going as planned until Chris ends up in a horrible automobile accident. As a skilled accident reconstructionist, Wendi begins to detect inconsistencies in the accident report. Something is wrong. The “accident” begins to look like Chris was hit on purpose. Wendi is determined to find out what really happened but as she investigates people begin to die.

At first, I wanted to paint Wendi with the bored and neglected wife brush and sweep her aside. I felt a bit annoyed with Wendi for the first part of the story. When she began to rebel against her morals with a devil-may-care attitude, I was certain she was having a midlife crises set in motion by a faith crisis that she blamed on her husband. Even though her husband wasn’t perfect, I didn’t feel he was entirely the blame for her restlessness.

Then Wendi’s personal story begins to unravel, revealing the pain and guilt she carried since her teen years due to an unwise choice which had embarrassing and life-altering consequences. Her mother’s actions to preserve the family’s perfect Christian image by covering up the mistake only cemented Wendi’s need to be perfect by any means. It is then that Wendi’s heartache and desperation to find her true self, her true identity is revealed. I felt bad judging and sweeping her aside merely on her wayward actions. Boy did I forget that deep-seated pain often motivates people to do things I can’t understand. Isn’t that where prayer instead of prejudice comes into play?

Perfect asks the question: how far will people go to atone for guilt? This story is full of deceit, guilt, cover-up, and revenge which magnify our need for forgiveness and grace.

The reader will be drawn into the storyline as the plot unfolds. At first you think you know where the story is going until  Kraus throws the reader for a loop with an unexpected twist. Once the suspense tightens, Kraus does not let go until the final page is turned.

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