FICTION

In a Perfect World

304p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481479882.
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Gr 8 Up—A romance meets travel novel in this work that takes readers from the suburbs of Ohio to the bustling streets of Cairo. Caroline's summer plans get an unexpected detour when her mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Egypt. Caroline and her family uproot and move across the globe. Teens will be able to taste the koshary and feel the tension as Caroline navigates the streets of Cairo as a young blonde woman, subjected to, at times, street harassment and angry remarks. The teen meets Adam, the handsome son of the family driver, and he quickly helps her adjust to Egyptian and Muslim customs. The story isn't devoid of the Westerners as saviors trope, but the author attempts to portray the Muslim characters in a sympathetic and evenhanded way. When Caroline is accosted in the street by a catcaller, she explains the situation to Adam, who offers a compassionate response. His family is presented with tenderness. Doller describes Caroline's relatives who "watch Fox News" as having rigid views of Muslims, and the protagonist makes comparisons between the Muslim and Christian faiths. The plot moves along, pushing Adam and Caroline together, and a union is foreshadowed fairly early on. The story is light yet touches on timely topics without feeling bogged down or too didactic. The narrative is told through Caroline's point of view, and the language and style feel authentic. Readers will connect with Caroline's experiences in a distinct and fascinating place, and the heated romance simmers. Fans of romance set in far-off places will not be disappointed.
VERDICT A great addition to any library collection, especially where Gayle Forman's Just One Day is popular.

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