How best to describe the perfect book?
The Perfect Man by Naeem Murr, one of several on the long list that give us well drawn children and here you meet Raj, the child of an Indian mother and an English father.Intially abandoned to English relatives and then dumped on the doorstep of his uncle's mistress, Ruth, in a small American town.Ruth is a writer of romantic novels and always searching to construct the perfect man for her leading ladies.
Raj is quickly befriended by four of the town's children who integrate him rapidly into their world, the adults are much less willing to accept him.
This is much more than a coming of age read, more a microcosm of life in this small town with all its lies,secrets and silence, prejudices and gossip.
Yes,a vast range of characters who have the potential to be slightly confusing but I suspect you are not supposed to worry about that.Towns are busy places and Naeem Murr populates his carefully and well.If I'm in a room full of people I don't know them all with the same amount of detail and Murr ensured that I knew enough about the characters he wanted me to watch.Enough to allow me to also to make wrong assumptions and draw wrong conclusions much as the townsfolk did.Plenty to reflect on when you've finished the book too, Naemm Murr doesn't give you all the answers.
I can't recommend this one too highly, it reads beautifully and flows to the very last page.Rises,falls, plateaus,offers some respite, rises again, doesn't miss a beat.I'd love to see it make the shortlist but it is almost too good.I feel as if I've enjoyed it too much for it to win and I'm realising that's often the way with these things.
A very strong candidate for my Booker-thon shortlist though and incidentally that cover is perfect too. There is something so beguiling about that little boy doing a somersault, his tee-shirt exposing his ribcage and beneath that his heart and his gaze is fixed, focused and looking directly your way.
I'm not a graphic designer (that's the bookhound's department) but I've spent a long time looking at the covers on these Booker-thon titles and someone,somewhere has got this one very right; this one says everything about the story it contains.