The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
Published by Ballantine Books on August 6, 2019
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg: 3.92 (as of 2019-08-20)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.
Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s an icon of the tech world, the founder of a lucrative robotics company. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago, and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss. She is a miracle of science.
But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?
This was really nothing like I had expected. At the very start, I thought I had quite a firm grasp on things, but this is definitely one of those novels where literally nothing is what you expect. Even the perspectives shift wildly, moving between the second person while following Abbie and a plural first person (???) when diving into Abbie’s history with her husband. This definitely lends some additional intrigue to the narrative, and by the end I felt that this decision had paid off for Delaney.
While there isn’t much else to say about the plot itself — it’s interesting, it’s timely, and it makes you want to keep reading — there was an additional aspect to the novel that I found interesting. Abbie and her husband have a son named Danny, who was diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder. While I know next-to-nothing about this, the book explains it as late-onset autism. The disclaimer here is that I am allistic and have been unable to locate any ownvoices posts by autistic reviewers — so please link me any you have written or seen and I’ll add them here.
At first, I was really taken aback by the portrayal: there was a lot of the stereotypical “my son has been taken from me” wailing, and talk of “curing” him. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that this perspective changed greatly over the course of the novel and seemed positive by the end — although it’s not up to me to give the final comment on rep that doesn’t apply to me. I mention this for two reasons: first, this could obviously be triggering to some people. And second, if you’re considering putting down the book due to its characters’ problematic stances, they do change.
Overall this was a decent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting, creative thriller.