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. ~From GoodReads
Siblings. They're your closest genetic relative. You love them. You hate them. You wish they would "shut the hell up and go away". Yet when someone else hurts them, it's on. But imagine what it's like to have a sibling whose behavior controls your life. You can't take family vacations because of panic-induced freak outs. Your best friend's family moves across the country to get her away from the "crazy" boyfriend who also happens to be your brother. You aim for perfection to ease the worried strain you see on your parents' face. The pressure becomes so much that you will do anything to remain the "perfect child". This is Kendra's life and what pushes Kendra to take Grayson on the perfect escape.
Perfect Escape was simple in it's telling, and gripping in it's realistic look at living with someone with OCD. So many of us joke about being obsessive compulsive. I was very surprised to learn that the disorder is not simply based on the compulsion, but more so on the obsession. I myself spent a lot of years with a compulsive behavior. [I counted letters, syllables, words, all the time. Even while having conversations I would count how many words in the sentences. Sometimes I just counted to soothe myself.] This was nothing in comparison to someone with OCD, and t never truly interfered with my life. I eventually trained myself to stop, though I bet I can automatically tell you the number of letters in any word you throw me. But with the true OCD, the affected has a difficult time functioning because it doesn't allow them to move on until the compulsion is satisfied, no matter how long it takes. This information in itself made Perfect Escape a fascinating read.
You know the phrase "It's not about the destination, but the journey." ? That phrase describes Perfect Escape perfectly. Kendra thinks she's taking Grayson away to cure him, and once she fixes him, she can go home and face her own problems. But what if Grayson can never be truly "fixed"? What if he has his own issues in the shadows of her perfection? The story of the two, each longing to find their own place, was remarkable. I'm sure anyone with siblings can relate, regardless of whether they can specifically identify with Kendra and Grayson.
I loved Perfect Escape. It's a book that taught me about relationships, understanding, and love, but mostly acceptance. It made me feel and it made me think. Perfect Escape is a beautiful book that I fully intend to share with others, to read again and again.
"For three years he'd been scrabbling at the sides of that hole - sometimes coming oh-so-close to getting out - but he always fell back in. It was like watching someone you love be buried alive. (pg 33)
"Right there, by the car, I realized that sometimes you don't have to say you love someone for it to be true. Sometimes you just have to hang out in that person's shadow and be okay with it." (pg 343)
Published July 10th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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