Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
368 Pages (Hardcover)
Little Brown, Books for Young Readers
July 10, 2012
Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.
It is easy to say that this is a novel about the effects of OCD on a family, but doing so would be glossing over so much. It would be ignoring Kendra and her problems that are not related to her brother; which are already ignored by everyone in her world. Most of all, it would be trivializing the strength of the sibling relationship between Kendra and Grayson. They may have forgotten how close they can be for a while, but as the story progresses and the reader sees them getting more and more into a long lost flow, it is quite evident how much they need each other. So what is the novel about? Perhaps siblings. Or you could argue that it is about life, when life is nowhere near where you thought it would be or think it should be at that point.
Kendra has learned and adapted to striving for perfection. She has always been overshadowed by her brother, first when he was a "genius" and next when needed help to preform every day tasks as his OCD got progressively worse. Kendra is sick of always having to fetch her brother from the quarry where he trespasses to count rocks in the cold for hours at end. She may not have a disability, but everyone needs the guidance and attention of their parents. When that is no longer an option, she decides to find the answer to her problems by leaving - Grayson in tow - and driving until it becomes clear.
There were so many parts about this novel that I loved. I loved seeing Kendra evolve from of resentment to love for her brother; feelings that have always been present but both not very evident at times. She also changes from running away, to looking for an answer, to completing a mission, and finally to owning up to her mistakes. Grayson on the other hand, does not necessarily change, but the reader - and Kendra - begin to understand him more, which is really interesting. There is one character in particular that they meet in their travels that really stood out to me. It was a great reminder for both the reader and Kendra that no matter how bad you think you have it, someone has it much worse.
My only real criticism is that the sub plot of the cheating scandal that Kendra gets wrapped up in is told to the reader in a confusion manner. The story is split up between the present and relocation of the past with the scandal blowing up in her face. However, the method of telling the story,which I assume was to create suspense, really just confused me and made me think "Enough already, tell me what happened." However, you do find out the answer, it is not some big mystery, so it came to be just a small annoyance.
Overall, this novel is different and definitely worth the read. Jennifer Brown is able to tell a story with many intriguing parts that reiterates to the reader that no situation is exactly what it seems; that even your life can use some reflecting and understanding to come to terms with whatever situation you are unhappy with. Kendra's life does not change, but rather she sees her situation in a different light, which makes a huge impact. Is that change of thought not available to all of us?