The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry (Audiobook)

Published: March 1, 2019

Brilliance Audio

Listening Length: 10 hours 15 minutes

Narrator: Christine Williams, Erin Bennett, Dan John Miller

Genre: Domestic Thriller

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I purchased this book on Audible.

Dr. Lucinda Berry is a former clinical psychologist and leading researcher in childhood trauma. Now, she spends her days writing full-time, where she uses her clinical experience to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys taking her readers on a journey through the dark recesses of the human psyche. Her work has been optioned for film and translated into multiple languages. If Berry isn’t chasing after her son, you can find her running through Los Angeles, prepping for her next marathon.

Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.
But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.
Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.

“Do you think we’re crazy?”

Hannah and Christopher Bauer are a typical power couple, living their best lives. Christopher is an orthopedic surgeon, and Hannah is a nurse. When a child is brought into the emergency room one night with a full police escort, Hannah is concerned for the child but continues doing her job. Christopher is added to the care team for the little girl- and that was just the beginning.

I wish this started with a trigger warning, but neither the audiobook nor the novel has a warning. This novel mentions child abuse, child neglect, fertility issues, postpartum struggles, mental health struggles, animal abuse, physical abuse, and domestic violence. Be warned, and if you are sensitive to any of the potential triggers mentioned, do not read or listen to this book.

This is a heavy book, basically from the beginning. We meet our main characters right away, and at first, they seem normal, like couple goals. Things quickly shift.

I really wanted to like these characters. The writing was well done, there is obvious research and solid development that went into bringing these characters to life.

But- I could not stand Christopher. He was so blinded from the beginning. He did not respect or value Hannah whatsoever. He didn’t listen to her, he didn’t support her, and he would gaslight her all of the time. He was garbage.

Hannah started out so vibrant. I really wanted to love her, because she was so lovely. But as the novel continued on, she lost her fire. She lost her spunk. And I know that was intentional for the storyline, but it was heartbreaking none the less.

Janie. Holy buckets. She both broke my heart and made me furious. There were so many red flags that were ignored or overlooked (way to go, Christopher). This character was equal parts terrifying and devastating.

There are some extremely disturbing scenes throughout this novel. And while I understand why they were used, and what they added to the themes and plot points- there were some very difficult to hear chapters.

The writing, plot, characters, and research was well done and obviously through through. The content was raw and emotional. There are definitely scenes you will never see coming, and when they do, you’re left utterly shocked and slightly disgusted.

The narrators did a good job, their performances were well choreographed. Towards the middle to end of the book, I would clench my jaw anytime Christopher would be speaking, which was because I didn’t care for the character.

This was a quick listen for me, because I had to finish to see what happened. And also, because the trauma had already been so severe, I didn’t think it could have gone anywhere else.

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