In a Perfect World by Trish Doller, Simon Pulse (May 23, 2017). ISBN: 9781481479882. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
Caroline Kelly is pumped for the summer between her junior and senior years of high school. She’ll be working at Cedar Point Amusement Park with her best friend Hannah and should have plenty of time to spend with her boyfriend of three years, Oliver.
Everything changes in a heartbeat when her mother gets a long desired opportunity to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt. Since Dad works a two week on, two week off schedule on an east coast barge, there’s no way Caroline can stay put, so it’s off to Cairo, not only for the summer, but for her senior year. Doing so means breaking up with Oliver as well as losing her best friend, at least temporarily.
Despite understanding her Mom’s need to do this and having a solid family behind her, the change is really hard at first. Caroline’s upset and often angry at the way men look at her on the street and the language difference, not to mention the extreme heat and poverty, are unsettling. She’s also required to be driven most places by Mr. Elhadad, the man hired by her parents. When he becomes ill and is temporarily replaced by his teen son Adam, Caroline not only has an intriguing new opportunity to explore Egyptian culture and history, but realizes that despite language and religious barriers, there’s something real developing between them.
Reading how that plays out, especially against the political and family backgrounds makes this not only a mesmerizing experience, but one that does an impressive job of portraying how teen attraction can work in a sea of opposing forces. Trish Doller does a great job of exposing readers to a different culture and the challenges spending time in it poses, not only for Caroline, but for her family. It’s darn good romance that also allows readers to absorb cultural differences and challenges without preaching or overselling. It’s an excellent choice for school and public libraries.