Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is my third book by Jennifer Brown, which I enjoyed, but not to the degree of the other two. This book is much more laid back that the others with no major crisis or climax that the story is propelling towards. Of course, things happen, an event starts the two siblings running away together in the first place. 16yo Jennifer is in major trouble at school, perfect Jennifer, and she reacts in haste by grabbing her severely OCD incapacitated older (19yo) brother and running away on a road trip across the country, hoping to meet up with an old friend they haven't seen in three years. This is a character driven novel and the particular type of writing I like the best. However here we don't ever really get to know the characters all that well. Jennifer is the narrator and she is unreliable as she goes through many stresses and delusions until she straightens herself out by the end. But there are two key themes that kept my interest and investment in these characters, especially Grayson the psychologically challenged brother. I, myself have a diagnosis of OCD but not to anywhere near the degree of Grayson's but being a member of the mental health community I related to a lot of what was going on in this family's life. Grayson has become the centre of the family's attention, any slight "normal" achievement is applauded and practically televised. The mother's whole life has become nothing but caring for Grayson, worrying about him, praising his little "normal" accomplishments but at the same time just waiting for the moment when that one "god-awful-no-return-horrible) thing will happen. As the mother of an autistic child myself, this mother rubbed me the wrong way with everything she did as my parenting style is sooo different (ie treating the special needs child just the same as the other children in the house, not using the illness/diagnosis as a crutch for why they can't do things, focusing on the positives they can do and running forward with them, 'nough said). Anyway, younger sister Jennifer is really just running away from her own problems, including possible expulsion, but she's decided to use this "exposure therapy" Grayson's therapists' have talked about that her mother just can't agree to and while they are on the road trip she doesn't coddle Grayson, exposes him to things he doesn't like and leaves him to his own resources, whether he has really changed by the end of the book is debatable; it may be that Jennifer's outlook towards Grayson is the thing that changed. But one thing we do notice is that both these young adults have got to know each other so much better and formed a bond that will last the rest of their lives; they have also got to know their own selves much more and that they are capable of so much more than they had thought. When they do get home, they are going to have a set of completely shocked parents who are going to have to do their own soul-searching and make some personal changes. Ms. Brown is a wonderful writer and I did like this book, it is a heartfelt relationship/sibling story, but doesn't have quite the excitement of the previous two I've read so far. Looking forward to exploring the author's other books.
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