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In a Perfect World: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, October 6, 2009

45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet and novelist Kasischke finds beauty amid the apocalypse in her timely seventh novel. The Phoenix flu is sweeping the world, causing mass hysteria, arousing profound paranoia and inciting anti-American hatred worldwide. Jiselle, 32, is a jaded flight attendant and perpetual bridesmaid who says, I do, when handsome pilot Capt. Mark Dorn, a widower, offers her a vision of a perfect Midwestern family life far from her humdrum job and the dangers of the pandemic. The glitch is Mark's three minor children, who view Jiselle with derision, pity or outright hostility despite her best efforts to mother them. After the flu threat detains Mark overseas for months and then strikes close to home, Jiselle and her stepchildren must redefine their idea of family, community and their understanding of perfection and happiness. As their prospects of survival dwindle, the nascent family's fragile ties grow stronger. Kasischke's penchant for disconcerting but absorbing fiction is on display, as is her facility with language. Startling, sometimes violent images combine with strikingly dispassionate narration to create a fictional world where terror, beauty and chaos walk hand in hand. (Oct.)
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“Kasischke finds beauty amid the apocalypse in her timely seventh novel . . . Startling, sometimes violent images combine with strikingly dispassionate narration to create a fictional world where terror, beauty and chaos walk hand in hand.” (Publishers Weekly )

“From its haunting opening image to its riveting end, this is a tale of beauty, resilience, love, sacrifice, and even grace found in the most unlikely of places. In a truly ‘perfect world’ every book I read would inspire me like this one.” (Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers )

“IN A PERFECT WORLD reveals astonishing and tender insight into human nature while exposing a terrifying, yet believable, world I’d never before imagined. This story will grasp onto your heart before swiftly carrying you away.” (Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties )

“[Kasischke]writes with worldly-wise profundity and sudden beauty but also sly humor . . .We’re helplessly drawn in by a slew of burning questions, with this one foremost: When can we expect a sequel…or is that nothing but a doomed hope?” (Elle )

“This is a doomsday book in the form of a finely observed domestic drama, showing how dysfunctional relationships shift and soften in response to the looming menace . . . The reader may well come away with the odd, exhilarating feeling that a spell has both been cast and broken.” (Los Angeles Times )

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Original edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061766119
  • ASIN: B003F76INI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,437,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laura Kasischke teaches in the University of Michigan MFA program and the Residential College. She has published seven collections of poetry and seven novels. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer VINE VOICE on February 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While some dystopian books take place in an imagined future where things are very different from our own world (like The Hunger Games series), In A Perfect World takes place right in our here and now. There are no fantasy elements to this book at all--everything seems utterly believable and possible, which made it a more effective and scarier book for me.

Our glimpse into a world that encompasses nothing less than a complete breakdown of our society is Jiselle, a flight attendant who has "landed" the handsome and charismatic pilot Mark Dorn. In her 30s and tired of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride, Jiselle is ready to settle down and imagines a perfect little world with her ready-made family. (Mark has three children whose mother died a few years before.) Jiselle leaves her job and moves into the idyllic little town where Mark has a picture-perfect home. Anxious and excited to be the stepmother, Jiselle is eager to meet her new family. What she finds is three children who are less than thrilled--with the exception of the young boy (gotta love those boys!)--with their new stepmother. With Mark away for a good portion of time, Jiselle struggles to make the transition into her new life.

In the background of Jiselle's life, there are rumblings of another kind--a mysterious Phoenix Flu is causing troubles through the country. Even celebrities seems to be getting it and dying. (OK...a little editorial note here: I just loved that Kasischke killed off Britney Spears with the flu! Take that, Ms. I'm A Terrible Singer Yet Have Achieved Huge Success!)

As the story progresses, Mark is away more and more often, and Jiselle finds out some disturbing information about her new husband.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
I fully admit that I started off on the wrong foot with Laura Kasischke's new novel, In a Perfect World.

After twenty years spent in the commercial aviation industry, I was initially intrigued when we read the novel's synopsis on the back cover. Here's a portion:

"It was a fairy tale come true when Mark Dorn - handsome pilot, widower,
tragic father of three - chose Jiselle to be his wife. The other flight
attendants were jealous: She could quit now, leaving behind the million
daily irritations of the job. She could move into Mark Dorn's precious log
cabin and help him raise his three beautiful children.

But fairy tales aren't like marriage."

So when I dove into this novel, I wasn't too happy to see the jobs of airline pilots and flight attendants so grossly misrepresented. (No, flight attendants and pilots do not, for the record, ever sit around in a bar drinking in uniform. EVER.) It made me grumpy.

A few chapters later and I changed our tune a bit, thinking that no, this novel must be about step-mothers and their complicated relationship with unwilling and unhappy stepchildren.

But no. A few chapters beyond that and I was thinking this novel was really a commentary about our society's tendency to over-react to health scares (think Swine Flu hysteria).

Wrong again.

As it turns out, in the end, this novel was beautifully layered with depth and poignancy and a discovery of the human spirit and the choices we're faced with. Kasischke sucks you in and builds the tension steadily, almost imperceptibly, until you find yourself reluctant to set the book down.

Layers. This novel has some serious layers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Cade VINE VOICE on February 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Jizelle is a stewardess. Jizelle marries the pilot, Mark. The pilot that all the stewardesses swoom over. Jizelle never thought she would marry and now she's married WITH stepchildren. Yes, Mark has children from a former marriage. Jizelle quits her job, and stays home to take care of the children. Shorty thereafter the end of the world arrives in the form of the Phoenix flu. Just like the recent real life outbreak of Swine Flu only the reprocussions are far greater in this novel.

One must suspend disbelief in this one, however for me it was quite easy to do. Life as we know it has stopped for Jizelle and her stepchildren. Her husband, the pilot, is detained due to the outbreak of the Phoenix Flu. Unlike the Swine Flu, the Phoenix flu is far deadlier.

This book gives a possible image to an end of the world scenario but also delves into the complexities of step parenting, marriage, and the roles of woman in the world in terms of the choices they can and often do make just to win over the proverbial prince charming.
This book gets two thumbs up from me because it did what I expect all good novels to do...Entertained from page 1 to The End. I'm a fan of Laura Kasischke's and there's a reason. She CAN write.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Calvert on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Warning... a slight spoiler alert!

Just hang in there past the self-absorbed jet-setting courtship and the first miserable months with unhappy stepdaughters... The tone of the novel started to change with the strange wedding day where nearly everything goes wrong. Though comical at first glance, by the end of the honeymoon, no one is laughing. Early in the story, the main character seems caught in the middle between the unsupportive husband and his resentful kids. She's barely revealed to the reader in any meaningful way until tested by her circumstances. Aha! The author was setting us up! The novel takes a freakish turn towards the optimistically apocalyptic. I found myself unable to put it down and read the last half in one night. A surreal ending.
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