Jiselle is a single flight attendant in her mid-thirties when she meets Captain Dorn, a widowed pilot with three children. He sweeps her off of her feet and it isn't long until the two marry and she makes the decision to stay home with his children in the idyllic town of St. Sophia. This is the beginning of the end. It's not long after Jiselle has moved in before the Phoenix Flu, a vaccine and antibiotic- resistant flu, begins to claim the lives of many Americans, including celebrities. Clearly this is a disease that even money and fame can't protect you from.
At first, Jiselle and the children's lives are not greatly affected by this new flu. Sara, her new stepdaughter continues to dress in goth and detest her stepmother, Camilla remains polite yet distant, and young Sam begins to warm up to her. The children attend school and Jisella struggles to find ways to fill her days while dealing with her mother's scorn about her new marriage. Then the power outages begin- their cabin of often without power for days at a time. The grocery stores begin to run out of food, and the food that it does have is often stale or expired. The town begins to board up, fuel is next to impossible to buy so cars sit at the side of the road, abandoned, the schools close. Jiselle and the children must find new ways to adapt: new ways to heat the house, new ways to entertain themselves, and new ways to find enough food to eat. As the power outages continue, Captain Dorn is nowhere to be found, and the things that they used to take for granted become the biggest luxuries. Jiselle and her new family must form bonds and come to terms with their new family structure in order to survive.
Despite the rather dark plot, I absolutely loved In a Perfect World and found it impossible to put down for long. Laura Kasischke writes in such a way that the reader feels immersed in this world that she has created. More than once I put down the book and was surprised to find that the world around me was still intact, and that the Phoenix Flu had not taken over.
Although Jiselle was rather naive in the beginning, thinking that Captain Dorn had married her for love and not just as a nanny for his children, I enjoyed her determination to make a family from what she had been presented with. This book is not just about the end of the world as we know it, but is about marriage and motherhood, even when the children involved resist having a mother at any cost. An excellent novel, I highly recommend this to any fiction fan looking for a meaningful read. This one will stay with you long after you've finished the last page.
Thank-you to Deanna at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy. You can browse inside this book here or read Kristen's at BookNAround's review here.