Young Adult - Social Issues
276 Pages
Reviewed on 04/16/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

Miriam Kriegsman was madly in love with the new boy in her class, Benjy Tafeen. She dreamed of being his wife someday and told her friend Abby that she would remain chaste for him. Lila Adell was the attractive one in class and a bit of a phenomenon in school. Benjy felt attracted to her even though he had not spoken to her much. By the time school closed, Benjy and Lila had become inseparable, yet at the same time, he flirted with Miriam, much to Lila's chagrin. Benjy found Miriam intellectually stimulating and thought Lila was beautiful and talented although she could not communicate well. However, then there was Arjana, the African maid his father had brought to work in their house. She still haunted Benjy. Benjy was still looking for that 'perfect love'. Would he be able to find it? Would the dream he had for the three of them work out?

Perfect by Linda Heavner Gerald captures the complexities and complications of a relationship between three people, Miriam Kriegman, a rich and lovely girl; Benjy Tafeen, a young man whom most women found attractive; and Lila Adell. As the story progresses, readers see the emotional side of Benjy as he struggles to find true love with the two women in his life and how living in a dysfunctional family made him the person he is today. The sub-plots about the parents segue into the main plot effortlessly and the portrayal of every character in the story is powerful, strong, and memorable. Their flaws, personalities, and individuality reflect how the children are affected and how that seems to be the root cause of their behavioral problems.

The plot has many dimensions that make it interesting and the author has executed all the layers with expertise. The narration is fluid and expressive and that gives a good pace and movement to the story. The story unfolds the complications, complexities, flaws, struggles, and problems in the lives of Miriam, Benjy, and Lila as they get tangled in the lies, deceit, unusual setup, brokenness, and secrets of their lives. I love the way the story ended; it was unexpected, emotional, and powerful.

Lesley Jones

In Perfect by Linda Heavner Gerald, Benjy Tafeen comes from a wealthy but dysfunctional family. He has learned everything about relationships from his disloyal and heartless father. After his father 'gifts' him an African maid, Arjana, as a teenager, Benjy longs to find a woman who is as perfect as she. His desperation to find perfection leads him into a strange and secret relationship pact with Lila and Miriam. As tensions grow in the relationship, the two women must face the truth that, alone, they are not enough for Benjy. As Benjy struggles to find happiness in his life, will Miriam and Lila be enough or will the search for 'perfect' tear their relationship apart? The decisions they make will lead each down a path of self-discovery, death, and heartbreak.

Perfect by Linda Heavner Gerald is an exceptional tale examining the complexities of relationships. The main plot between Benjy, Miriam and Lila is told through the eyes of each character extremely well. I felt their pain and confusion so powerfully. The subplots too were compelling, revealing the dynamics between the parents of the trio, which really exposed the root causes of their children's life choices. The dialogue and storyline are realistic and at times troubling to read because everything was portrayed so authentically. There are moments that are very emotional to read as you step into this problematic world where families hide their secrets and lies. The parents have so many character flaws to the point that it sabotages the next generation's sense of normality, mutual respect, and love. The ending was unexpected and heartbreaking but, again, perfectly executed. This novel will certainly leave its mark on your heart long after the final page has been turned.

K.C. Finn

Perfect is a novel filled with interpersonal and relationship drama which was penned by author Linda Heavner Gerald. The plot features young college-age protagonists finding their way in life, but it contains mature content that is more suited to adult readers and the top end of the YA spectrum of readership. The drama revolves around Benjy Tafeen, whose earlier life experiences have led him to believe that no single woman can complete his need for love in the future. So when he meets and adores both Miriam and Lila, the trio attempts to begin their college life in Florida in a complex relationship where all are included. But life has a way of making things even more difficult for them as the consequences of their decisions come to light.

Author Linda Heavner Gerald has created a fascinating and complex relationship drama that comes from a lesser-explored area of the genre, and her approach to the three-person relationship is also quite unconventional, unromanticized and unique. I enjoyed the character presentation best, and it really drives the plot forward as we are given intimate portrayals of the central three characters and, in particular, Benjy who instigates the events that set off the plot’s chain reaction. It is their choices which direct the narrative through its powerful emotional content, which is dealt with in a deep and understanding manner by the author. Overall, Perfect is a recommended read for those who want to explore the darker side of relationships and the nature of us as human beings when we seek out a mate.

Jessica Barbosa

Perfect by Linda Heavner Gerald is a story about three people: two girls doing all they can for the love of one ‘perfect’ boy. Benjy Tafeen has dark curly hair, chocolate-colored eyes, and olive skin. Even at a young age, he knew he was a heart-breaker. He also clearly knew what he wanted for his future. Benjy found his perfect woman at the age of thirteen and he knew that no single woman could ever compare to her in his mind. This is why he came to the conclusion that it might take two women to complete him and give him the ‘perfect’ love he envisioned. Miriam Kriegsman and Lila Adell are two different girls in love with the same boy. Both would do anything for Benjy and the two try their best not to hold him accountable for his flaws. Little do they know that willingness to be blind to his flaws might later lead to their undoing.

Perfect is an interesting story involving unique social issues and dilemmas. There was manipulation, cheating, lies, and betrayal soaked into the pages of the story, and you will never be bored. Linda Heavner Gerald has skillfully crafted a unique world and filled it with unforgettable, eccentric characters that both contradict and complement each other at every turn. I found myself sympathizing often with the girls, Lila and Miriam. Despite the bad choices they made early on, I couldn’t help but hope for a happy ending for both of them that did not involve Benjy at all, and with the two girls alive and happy to be away from him at last. Sadly, there are consequences to their choices and a happy ever after for ‘both’ of them is not guaranteed. Still, the thing I hoped for the most was for someone to maybe punch Benjy in the face. I already despised him a lot, right from the beginning. His indecision towards the two girls and the way he clearly played both of them made me so angry. Linda Heavner Gerald’s characters truly left an impact on me all throughout the story. Their different personalities and their distinctive thought processes really brought the whole story together and made this novel an unforgettable read for me.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Benjy Tafeen is a handsome young man who can have any woman he likes. Miriam Kriegsman is a beautiful young woman from a rich family, who fell in love with Benjy when they were in ninth grade in a private school in Tallahassee. The dashing young man, however, already has a girlfriend, Lila; a very attractive young woman who will do anything to keep her man. He also had an unforgettable lover, Arjana, who will haunt him for the rest of his life, and he will always look for the perfection that he thinks Arjana provided, to the detriment of all the women involved in his life.

Perfect by Linda Heavner Gerald is a story of a very unusual relationship between three young people which will ultimately affect their lives in a most profound way. Perfect is one man's search for the perfect woman in his life. It is a story of love in all its beauty and imperfections. The story unfolds in a privileged school in Tallahassee and the author did not waste time in introducing the three main protagonists in the story. Benjy, Lila, and Miriam are three very intriguing personalities and it is just normal that sparks fly when their lives cross. Three is a crowd but Lila and Miriam, both madly in love with Benjy, agree to give the unusual set-up a try. In the end, everybody gets hurt but there is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel.