Books & Literature

Book Review: The Perfect Family, by Robyn Harding

THRILLER: Thomas and Viv Adler, together with their two teenage kids, have a picture-perfect family. But each member of this family has a secret, and their ‘perfect’ façade is crumbling.

Devoured in one sitting.

Thomas and Viv Alder seem to be the perfect couple. To the outside world, their fancy cars, careers in real estate and interior design, and their children, Eli and Tarryn, comprise everything two people could want. But behind the walls of their newly renovated home, all four members of the Adler family are harbouring secrets. The truth is they’re far from perfect. And when a mystery assailant starts vandalising their house in a series of increasingly deadly attacks, it’s clear that somebody out there knows it.

The Perfect Family is the kind of book that knows how to hook you. Thanks to a fast-paced plot, very short chapters (sometimes not even two pages), and a string of cliffhangers, this book is seriously difficult to put down. Reading becomes addictive, as you’ll be dying to know the truth behind the characters’ secrets, as well as those of the people in their lives. 

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of the four members of the very flawed Adler family. Author Robyn Harding manages to create four totally distinct voices that help bring the characters to life. It’s unlikely that you’ll get confused between them and need to remind yourself whose chapter you’re reading as the voices are so diverse and definite. The decisions of the four protagonists aren’t always fully believable, but the plot is so enticing that it doesn’t end up making too much of a difference.

Telling the story from multiple points of view works really well—it helps to keep all four character journeys running evenly and adds to the speedy pace. Often, where there are three or four narrators, one of them will be less interesting than the others, but that’s not the case here. The author put equal effort into all four characters and, as a result, all of their storylines are captivating. 

Aside from the Adler family, there’s quite a large cast of characters to keep track of, but the multiple-narrator style helps to categorise each one of them as relating to a particular protagonist. The long list of characters keeps things interesting because the culprit behind the attacks on the Adlers’ house could be anyone at all. Part of the fun as the reader is linking the secondary characters back to the Adler family and trying to work out who has the most reason to hate them. 

While the majority of the book is unputdownable, the ending doesn’t quite deliver the clear solution the reader comes to crave. Most of the questions I had were solved with delicious twists, but a few went unanswered. That may have been intentional, but after investing in such a captivating story, I needed all the answers!

Beneath the electrifying plot, the story carries a few important messages. The most obvious is that you never quite know what’s going on behind closed doors; the illusion of perfection doesn’t mean a thing. But as the main characters work through their problems and come closer to solving the mystery of who’s attacking their house, Harding explores the importance of being honest with your family members and working together as a team. 

The Perfect Family is lots of fun in a dark way. Perfect for fans of twisty thrillers from authors such as Liane Moriarty and Gillian Flynn, it’s the kind of book you won’t be able to stop reading. 

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

Distributed by: Simon and Schuster  
Released: 28 July 2021
RRP: $32.99

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