Disease finally overwhelms the society of In a Perfect World. Kasischke creates a futuristic post-apocalyptic dystopia, or at least the beginnings of one. Luckily the water continues to flow in the taps, and the cell phones continue to function for a couple of months. Electricity flickers off for a moment, then a week, and then forever. The new plague seems to kill the old and the young randomly. But Jiselle learns how to cope. At first she figures out the simple things: "After all those years relying on frozen dinners and packaged bread, it amazed Jiselle that she could prepare a meal out of beans and water and a single carrot that was so delicious even Sara [the most troubled daughter] would ask for seconds." But Jiselle learns even more and gets competent at more complicated skills. As the comforts of her suburban world disappear, her odd family begins to cohere. As she begins to imagine a previously unimaginable perfect life, the new and terrifying threats outside begin to close in. A reader will be at the edge of her seat toward the end of this book. Laura Kasischke has written a novel that's very different from her earlier books, and once you've begun it, you'll find it impossible to put down.
Kasischke reads from In a Perfect World at Nicola's Books on October 8.
[Originally published in October, 2009.]