The Perfect Family

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding was an interesting domestic thriller. Someone is targeting the Adler family, and things are getting dangerous.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

From Goodreads:

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs.

It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

This twisty, addictively page-turning suspense novel about a perfect family’s perfect façade will keep you turning pages until its explosive ending.

“Well, the world would be a better place without people like the Adlers. I lit the match. And let it drop.”

The Perfect Family is a bit of a slow burn, with increasingly more dangerous pranks being pulled on the Adler family. However, the pranks take a backseat to each character’s inane ability to make everything about themselves and their secrets. The secrets make you wait for them to get worse, more interesting, worth the kind of events that occurring – and spoiler, they aren’t worth it. While the secrets were boring, and the characters frustrating, I stuck it out to the end with this one.

“It would be weed wax- a potent marijuana concentrate smoked in a pipe. It was not for the novice drug user. These kids were hard-core smokers.”

I do want to point out this particular line. This is supposed to be from Eli, a college dropout, about the scary group of drug dealers. I’m not sure that our author has ever spoken to teenagers or people who smoke weed, but this line made me laugh out loud. It was supposed to make things seem tenser, more frightening, but anyone who refers to stoners who smoke dabs as “hard-core smokers” will find anything scary. This line shows the lack of drama in any of these characters’ lives, the general bore that is suburban, rich, white lives. Everyone but Eli’s secrets is, realistically, resolved with therapy and better communication. Their “secrets” are mostly shaped by the fear of people’s perceptions, not necessarily by having done anything wrong. This line really encompasses my frustrations with this story.

“I realize that everyone in my family had secrets. And mine might be the worst of all.”

I stuck it out with the Perfect Family in the hopes that the twist would make it all worth it. It wasn’t. Their secrets were revealed to be less than impactful, their enemies wrapped up neatly with a bow. The final line of the ending chapter made me roll my eyes so far back into my head, I thought I went blind. People may enjoy this for the slow tension, and I can understand that, but the ending was ridiculous, and the characters frustrating. Harding crafted a story that had opportunities to be great but failed to make use of those opportunities.

“The truth was so much worse.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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