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Book Review – The Perfect Family

The Perfect Family

What do you do when the life you’ve so carefully built begins to crumble? How do you react when you learn that the

future you envision for yourself and your loved ones will not materialize? How do you respond when your children’s

expectations for their lives are not aligned with your dreams for their future?

How do you reconcile and stand firm in your own firmly held beliefs when you learn that they directly disagree with

the beliefs of some of the people you love and cherish the most? Could your family survive that kind of revelation?

 

Those are the questions Kathryn Shay addresses in her new novel, The Perfect Family, an exploration of a family’s

the difficult journey toward understanding, empathy, and ultimately unconditional love and acceptance.

Book Review – The Perfect Family

Synopsis:

The Davidsons are the perfect family. Maggie is a psychology teacher at a community college. She and her husband,

Mike, have two teenage sons, Brian and Jamie. Brian, the oldest, plays third base on the high school baseball team

and dreams of getting a college scholarship. Jamie is 17 years old and a member of the drama club.

As the story begins, there is tension between Maggie and Mike because she has gradually drifted away from the

Catholic Church. Mike, a faithful believer, and follower believes that her family should regularly worship as a family

and adhere to the church’s stance on social issues, including se xual orientation. He even chairs the parish’s

Contemporary Affairs Committee. However, as a professional psychologist, Maggie rejects the church’s belief that

homose xuality is a sinful lifestyle choice that is subject to change through prayer and restorative therapy.

Maggie has other reasons for rejecting Catholic dogma. When she was eight years old, she was permanently

separated from her older sister, Caroline. her, her parents disowned her and banished her. For the past thirty-

seven years, Maggie mourned the loss of her older sister and wondered if Caroline’s life turned out as she expected.

Book Review – The Perfect Family

Brian has a longtime girlfriend, and now Jamie is interested in someone special and wants to start dating. When he

tells Maggie about her “first boyfriend”, her cheesy expression makes Maggie’s heartache and rejoice at the same

time. And I wonder how her husband, who loves her children as deeply as any parent, will be able to reconcile the

news that her son is gay with his unconditional devotion to his church and her teachings.

Check:

The Perfect Family is a book close enough to perfection that if I were in charge of the curriculum in American high

schools, I would make it mandatory to read it in all schools, both for students and their parents.

Kathryn Shay addresses the story of a young man’s statement about his se xual orientation and his impact on his

family, friends, and community with sensitivity and compassion. It is not surprising. Although she says the story is

“very fictitious with only a few elements from our trip”, it is a stay that she is familiar with. Her son came out of

the closet when she was 17 and in the ten years since then, she has had time to reflect on that event and reflect on her

impact on her life as well as his. her family.

Book Review – The Perfect Family

What’s notable about The Perfect Family is its lack of villains. Shay has intricately created a cast of multifaceted

characters, each with her own beliefs and points of view. Each is, in her unique way, a product and has spent her

life reacting to the environment in which he was raised. Each character is challenged to examine the things that she

has always accepted as true. And each one is motivated by their capacity to love.

In The Perfect Family, the world is made up of a myriad of shades of gray, but devoid of absolute white or deep black.

 

Maggie is determined to protect Jamie. She validates her bravery and her desire to be your typical high school boy,

but she is determined to keep her family intact. She understands that se xual orientation is an immutable

characteristic, not a choice, and assures Jamie that she is proud of him and supports him. Of course, Maggie sees a

counselor to whom she confides hers of her fears and misgivings, and it is those confessions that make Maggie

completely believable and empathetic. Although she accepts, appreciates, and values Jamie for who he is, her raw

and honest emotional reactions elevate her character from a stereotypical crossover mother in a made-for-television

movie to a credibly conflicted and frightened father who, above all else, you wants your child to be safe and happy.

 

Maggie is the voice of reasoned compassion and the

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