Seventeen-year-old Harry Fitzwilliam suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, and anxiety. His loving mother, Ella, has dedicated her entire life to his well-being, while his father, Felix, avoids dealing with him by working non-stop. Ella and Felix have accepted their way of life, and while neither is fully satisfied, it works for them. That is, until otherwise health Ella suffers a heart attack and their whole family structure begins to crumble.
At the beginning, it seems that Ella is perfect, a devoted mother who tirelessly manages her son’s medications, therapists, physicians, school activities, and emotions. Felix is supremely unlikable. Even when he’s not working himself to death, he’s criticizing his wife and child. Why can’t Harry be more normal? Why does Ella baby him so much? Why can no one remember to put their shoes away?!? When Ella’s health takes turn after turn for the worse, Felix finds himself absorbing more and more of her tasks, and understanding just what it takes to keep their family running smoothly.
Harry is an impressive character, never letting his conditions get in the way of his life. He has good friends and does well in school. There are, of course, moments when he struggles. When he tries with everything he has to stop ticcing, but he just can’t. When he realizes that his Tourette’s could get him in a lot of trouble. When he struggles with his mother being in the hospital and having to deal with his father. But overall, Harry is a beacon of hope and happiness.
But it’s Felix that really steals the show. He develops so much as a person of the course of the book, coming to love both his wife and his son more as he realizes that Harry isn’t the only one with issues. As Felix delves deeper into his past, he confronts uncomfortable truths about his relationship with his own father, and how that may influence the way he treats his own son.
The Perfect Son is an unexpectedly touching book about family and mental illness, and I would highly recommend it.
I received a free copy of The Perfect Son from Amazon’s Kindle First program.