In a Perfect World – Trish Doller

Trish Doller is typically very good at writing about people struggling through very hard times. PTSD. The foster care system. But in this case, the story was very ambitious and very timely, but still felt insensitive to me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to super-liberal Canada, but I find it so hard to understand the perspective of far-right Americans.

Synopsis

Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

Review

Trish Doller is typically very good at writing about people struggling through very hard times. PTSD. The foster care system. But in this case, the story was very ambitious and very timely, but still felt insensitive to me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to super-liberal Canada, but I find it so hard to understand the perspective of far-right Americans.

Caroline goes to Egypt, and her whole world expands. Adam’s whole world expands too, but from the other end of the spectrum. That part is nice to see, although I really don’t think their ending was realistic. I’d never been in Africa until this past April, and that was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. Ms. Doller definitely shows the beauty in individual people, architecture, and the rich cultural history of a foreign land.

At the same time, she discounts the whole thing with undertones of terrorism. Yes, there are extremists and extremist-hopefuls out there. There are people disillusioned and frustrated by corrupt governments that don’t protect their interests. There are American drones wreaking constant havoc in war-torn areas. It didn’t have to be *this* exact situation that drove the Kelleys away from Egypt. It could have been an accumulation of everyday evils; things that impact people in all sorts of grimy cities — think pickpocketing, kidnapping, or something else that would happen when people are desperate, but fight their way through. It could have been an illness; something that drew attention to failure in the system and lack of available resources for the people (make it water-related and hit two birds with one stone). There were so many options, and we had to resort to terrorism here? Come on.

I liked how American expatriate communities were portrayed though, because I think that’s pretty accurate in developing and newly industrialized nations around the world. Are you really immersing yourself in a foreign country if you just stay in an insular American community and send your kids to an American school? Likewise, I loved how Trish Doller showed that not all Americans are equally privileged. Someone from the Midwest realistically isn’t in the same financial situation as someone from New York or California or DC, and I like how that was emphasized in the most subtle ways.

As for the star-crossed lovers… they never made my heart sing, but I can see how they’re good for each other. The rest of their LIVES would be hard together, but if more people are open to interracial, interreligious, and intercultural romances, we will only start to see a more diverse and inclusive world. Because if you think about it, the more it happens, the less likely people will be able to fit inside a box (I’m looking at you, American standardized tests).

Related Reading

  • North of Happy – Adi Alsaid (from Adam’s perspective 😉 )
  • The Possibility of Somewhere – Julia Day
  • Ten Thousand Skies Above You – Claudia Gray

Rating: 2/5

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s