It’s hard to review Perfect Score without giving away spoilers, but I’ll do my best. Alex Finch’s first recollection of Sam Barrowdale is a chance meeting in 1963 when a grubby thirteen year old Sam pushes a rickety, overloaded cart down a windy sidewalk and Alex gawks at him from the rear seat of his uncle’s shiny black Fleetwood.
This is a time when dyslexia is unknown to the parenting public. To the public period. Sam’s disability manifests itself in stuttering and a false mask of illiteracy that causes others to misjudge his intelligence and strength. While fighting stigma he endures the perilous squalor of homelessness with courage, grueling ranch work with grit and a surprising well of knowledge, and he charges himself with the care of his ailing sister. Alex, on the other hand, handsome and naturally talented, chooses to nurture an affinity toward music and composition, while appearing to take for granted the shelter and privilege of wealth.
The youths couldn’t have been more different, their worlds further apart. Or so it seems.
But fate has a way of intertwining lives, of intervening when love seems all but forbidden, and fate had much in store for Alex Finch and Sam Barrowdale. Their lives cross time and again in Perfect Score, and the attraction between them grows with each encounter.
Using an engaging and pliable mix of first and third person, Susan Roebuck weaves a tale that runs the gamut from tender experimentation to the hardships of ranching to the greed and flagrant abuse of a corrupt pharmaceutical giant. But the constant and underlying theme in Perfect Score is universal, whether male to male or male to female: a tender and uncertain love.
I’m giving Perfect Score 4 stars. There’s a genuine, down-to-earth quality in Roebuck’s writing that draws the reader into a complex story made all the more compelling by the author’s daring and keen ability to tell it. As far as weaknesses, I would’ve appreciated seeing the characters fleshed out a little more, the plot tweaked an additional bit, and the transition in the Epilogue smoother. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the read for others.
Born and educated in the UK, Susan Roebuck now resides in Portugal with her husband where I hope she’s working diligently on her next project in that wonderful office overlooking the Atlantic. To read more about this author and her writing visit http://lauracea.blogspot.com/2011/03/lets-hear-it-for-boys-and-girls.html.