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Perfect Little World


Perfect Little World

I was excited to review Kevin Wilson’s second novel, PERFECT LITTLE WORLD, after attending a screening of The Family Fang --- a movie based on his first book --- and briefly speaking with its director and lead actor, Jason Bateman. Finding the film to be pleasantly idiosyncratic, I was eager to uncover more of Wilson’s work. His novels describe families that are more than eccentric and experimental, but destructive in their decisions, even when in the hopes of creating a more dynamic or productive family life. PERFECT LITTLE WORLD deals with a psychological study that affects the lives of many, specifically (and more importantly) children who couldn't possibly have consented and may never be the same. It depends on whether or not the experiment works.

"PERFECT LITTLE WORLD is a story about what it means to be a parent living in a world where so much emphasis is placed on one’s social status, financial standing and mental health."

Isabelle Poole, better known as Izzy, is almost perfect; she is at the top of her class and makes the best barbecue in town. Yet her father is an alcoholic, her mother passed away, and her art teacher, Hal, is also her boyfriend, a trust fund kid with manic depression who commits suicide soon after Izzy declares that she is pregnant with his child. This event is what leads Hal's mother to confront Izzy with a proposition: Will the girl leave everything she knows --- even if it isn't much --- and take part in a 10-year experiment, possibly at the expense of her child's well-being?

Dr. Preston Grind is the young mastermind psychologist behind The Infinite Family Project, a glorified commune where 10 different families live together, eat together, take care of their children together, and sometimes sleep together --- even if they foolishly think it could possibly be a secret. The objective is for these families to have financial security, as well as career and educational opportunities, while their children are cared for by top professionals, overseen by a psychologist, and tested regularly to make sure they are progressing at an above-average rate. The only catch is that these adults must pay equal attention to every child, leaving some unhinged when not able to spend quality time with their own kid. To make matters worse, the children don't know who their biological parents are --- and neither do they seem to understand the concept.

This confusion seems to leak onto the adults, who think it’s okay to share spouses as well. With every single detail concerning what takes place inside the complex going through Dr. Grind, parents are left on edge. Who told? Who is the suck-up? Izzy is single, seemingly perfect, and an easy target. Her growing affections for Dr. Grind make it very believable that she’d be the one to tell him the intricacies of what takes place when the lights are out, or when no one is supposedly looking. But one gets the feeling that someone always is.

PERFECT LITTLE WORLD is a story about what it means to be a parent living in a world where so much emphasis is placed on one’s social status, financial standing and mental health. Those living in Dr. Grind’s complex take a tremendous chance in order to raise their children in an economically comfortable environment, even if it means that the comfort of their family will be compromised. At the onset of the book, Izzy seems to have the most problems, being fresh out of high school and a single parent. In the end, these might just be the things that save her.

Reviewed by Bianca Ambrosio on January 27, 2017

Perfect Little World
by Kevin Wilson

  • Publication Date: October 24, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco
  • ISBN-10: 0062450344
  • ISBN-13: 9780062450340