Jacks' is the main character and she lives in a world constructed on harsh critiques of the surroundings and people including her husband, mother with Alzheimer, daughter Martha and idealisation of the past. Her vision of the world appears brighter and better when she plays the game ‘What would happen if’ she stayed with Sven. The same man who vanished when she needed him. This little fact seems not to concern her too much.
It is a novel about woman who creates a perfectly valid excuses for teen love Sven on a daily basis while neglecting her loving husband. The same man who works hard everyday so they can pay their bills so she can remain unemployed and take care of her mother. Do not get me wrong, that’s very noble of her but what’s less noble is fantasising about other men other than your husband and sneaking out to see this man in the hope to reignite romance.
The ambiguous relationship between Jackie and her mother continues throughout the book. It is a very odd construction from emotions such as regret, lack of forgiveness, even a grudge. Idealised father appears in Jacks' thoughts as the parent we all want to have just so it can be revealed that a perfect father was as well cruel and selfish. A father who does not care about his family and wants to live them behind. Her mother’s strength and persistence allowed Jackie to have all of the happy memories. Jacks' mum that is portrayed as a cold, strict person paid a huge price for her only daughter's happiness.
Similar yet not as strong and dramatic ambiguity is shown between Jacks and Martha, especially when she discovers that her daughter repeats Jacks' teen mistakes. There is a very specific bond between them represented in choices and life events yet Jackie fails to see that those similarities do not give her the right to expect the same way of thinking e.g. abortion from Martha. Particularly enjoyable is the father-daughter bond that remains strong if not stronger than the husband-wife connection (at his point I hoped he will find someone better than Jacks).
Perfect daughter has an intriguing yet not surprising plot. There is romance, friendship, anger, over generations connection and jumps back and forth from present to the main character past. This is not one of the books you will remember for particular details. At least I remember it for emotions and thoughts caused by the situations presented. Great for a longer train journey when you do not want to be forced to give the plot your full attention. Again, that is not the bad thing. I need books that I have pleasure from reading just because the simplicity and rawness of emotions is so capacitating.