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Seven Perfect Things


Seven Perfect Things

The cover of SEVEN PERFECT THINGS is adorned with adorable, sleeping puppies. When 13-year-old Abby's abusive father tells her that nothing in life is perfect, and even dares her to "name one thing in this life that's perfect," she responds that she could name seven. We know that these seven perfect things, which changed Abby's life, were once so unwanted and considered so imperfect that someone put these precious puppies in a bag and threw them off a bridge to drown in a river.

Abby is on her school's swim team when she sees a bag move and realizes that something alive is in it. She doesn’t hesitate. Into the murky waters she goes, and she manages to swim them all to safety. When the first puppy emerges, Abby is delighted. But then there are six more. What is she to do with seven of them?

"Hyde clearly demonstrates her uncanny ability to show human nature at both its best and worst, in ordinary people who sometimes do extraordinary things."

Abby brings them to the local shelter, where a bitter reality is revealed to her --- there is no space for them, and they will be put down immediately. Just the act of walking them a few miles to the shelter results in her attachment to the cute, helpless pups. But her home life is far from perfect, and her father is distant at best and verbally abusive at worst. She knows that there is no way she will be able to keep the puppies in her emotionally frigid home.

Through Catherine Ryan Hyde's careful narration, we also get to know Abby’s mother, Mary. We learn about her insecurities and how she ended up in an abusive marriage similar to her parents’. Then there's Elliot Colvin, a recent widower who visits his hunting cabin to process his grief. What he does not expect to find is that many of his possessions were stolen after someone broke in; instead of a generator, the shed is filled with seven rambunctious puppies.

This serendipitous meeting of Abby and Elliot benefits both of them. For almost the first time in Abby's life, there is a man she trusts to do the right thing. She talks to Elliot in ways that she hasn't been able to talk to her mother, and certainly not her father. She shares the fear that stalks her and her mother as her father's jealousy and suspicions twist normal relationships and friendships into something sinister. As a result, Mary has to sneak out to meet with her friend.

When Abby's father finds out about her friendship, he whisks Abby and Mary away before they can talk to anyone to let them know. They are prisoners, each staying where they are out of concern for the other. The third person narration alternates between the three main characters and allows us to see the events from each of their points of view.

Still, Abby is the main character, and she is the one who changes the most in the story. It's as if Elliot is a catalyst, and his calm, unthreatening, compassionate nature gives her a glimpse into what a normal father figure could be. While Elliot does effect change by showing Abby possibilities, he is also changed by Abby's determination and strength.

Hyde clearly demonstrates her uncanny ability to show human nature at both its best and worst, in ordinary people who sometimes do extraordinary things. While the puppies don't become characters in the story, they are certainly another catalyst that brings the humans together. More importantly, we see that the power of love for a dependent animal can make us beg, borrow and move mountains.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on May 8, 2021

Seven Perfect Things
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  • Publication Date: May 4, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1542021545
  • ISBN-13: 9781542021548