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The Perfect Girl

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  20,666 Ratings  ·  1,593 Reviews
To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey - child genius, musical sensation - is perfect. Yet several years ago, Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she's free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead.

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2016)
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Popular Answered Questions
Caroline No answer, but thank you for asking this, because it was driving me crazy as well.
"Monday Morning" seems to be the events of three years ago, around…more
No answer, but thank you for asking this, because it was driving me crazy as well.
"Monday Morning" seems to be the events of three years ago, around when the accident/arrest happened, but I have no idea why they chose to label the timeline this way.(less)
Caren Larkin I also don't understand why she had to add in the romance between Tess and Sam... and his illness? What did that have to do with anything else?

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
But the problem is, a high IQ doesn't necessarily mean that you're clever enough to avoid being a massive teenage cliché. Which is what I was, or what I became. Before my descent into 'teen tragedy,' that is.

Meet Zoe, she was bullied back at her expensive private school. She was the poor kid who got the scholarship to the school because she was a child genius piano player.
Palm Springs commercial photography

Zoe ends up making a mistake and it ends up with three of her classmates dead. She was fourteen at the time of the accident
Kaceey - Traveling Sister
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Young teenage Zoe makes one extremely bad decision and the repercussions haunt her family for years. Now she and her mom have ventured to a new town in hopes of a fresh start.

Everyone deserves a second chance, right?

When still another tragedy strikes, Zoe understandably believes her world is crashing around her yet again.

This book started off fairly slow for me. It’s also told from several POV and timelines that occasionally I needed a program to follow. But once I fell into the rhythm, I breeze
4 Second chance stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The perfect daughter... The perfect mother... The perfect second chance family... but what is it that we say?

if something seems too good to be true, it probably is...

This book sucked me in from the very beginning.... it was a very fast-paced, page turning read, because I just needed to know what was going to happen with this family....

The structure of this book was brilliant... told from alternating points of view... alternating between events before and after the mur
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 close, but not quite so perfect stars to The Perfect Girl ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

It only took me a couple pages to get hooked on The Perfect Girl. The structure of the book added to the swift pacing where different points of view were told at two different times - both before and after a murder. The short chapters added to the quick tempo. Lots of surprises, interesting characters, and a bird’s eye view into this family, all added up to a great book on the whole.

But you know there’s “but” in here somewhere, d
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Gone Girl or Girl on the Train
The Perfect Girl was a perfect psychological thriller and it was perfect for this time of year. I think it started off a little slowly but gradually built up speed and it kept me turning the pages all the way through. This novel definitely had more of a somber and a macabre tone throughout but I think it fit the book to a "T."

This book alternated between Sunday night after the concert and Monday morning. Personally, I found that a little confusing, but I stuck with it and I am glad I did. That i
Zoe Guerin is a musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Her dreams of success were shattered the night she was involved in a tragic accident that resulted in the death of three classmates. Zoe was convicted in their deaths and spent eighteen months in jail. At seventeen she has served her time and her mother Maria plans the perfect comeback--a piano recital. They live in a new community now and no one knows about Zoe's past. The plans for redemption come to a halt when the father of one of Zoe's victi ...more
A Tale of Two Cities.......

Perhaps it's me. I am torn by this dichotomy that has been presented. I read What She Knew by this talented author. It was filled with pure compassion, deeply carved characters, and the beautiful lilt of language. I just finished The Perfect Girl and felt like I was reading a newspaper rendition. No evidence of this masterful writer.

The Perfect Girl begins with a seventeen year old genius of a musical prodigy, Zoe Maisey. A few years back, she was involved in an automo
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

“When all the details fit in perfectly, something is probably wrong with the story.”

Meet Zoe Maisey, a genius, a child piano prodigy, seventeen years old, and convicted of drinking and driving which resulted in the deaths of three classmates. Her life was going to be perfect, all planned out for her, but then fate stepped in and all that changed in the blink of an eye.

Meet Maria, Zoe's mom determined to carve out a life for Zoe, after Zoe's dad leaves them bereft. Maria moves them, af
Susanne Strong
4 Stars..

Zoe Maisey and her mother have built a new life for themselves. Even Zoe’s name is different. Everything changed within the blink of an eye. Zoe was involved in something horrific, something she paid a big price for and now, Zoe and her mother Maria have a second chance at life and a new family. The only thing that has remained a constant is Zoe’s piano playing. She and her new step brother Lucas have a concert tonight. At the end of it, tragedy strikes yet again and Zoe’s mother Maria
2.5 stars

A good thriller is tough to find.

This one centres around Zoe, a teenage piano prodigy, a victim of bullying at her expensive private school - and also a convicted killer. We are told early on that her mother Maria, is killed on the evening after a piano recital gone wrong.

There's a lot of crap going on in the background. Blended families, affairs, secrets and lies.

For me, this book had a distinct YA feel. Not only because the main character is a teenager, but also the simplicity of it
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book compelling. I needed to know what Zoe, a 14 year old musical prodigy, had done. What mistake had she made that completely changed her life and who she was. How did she get a "Second Chance Family," but then have that go awry as well?

There is a limited number of characters, and the book is a study of these characters and their behavior. How does a teenager (we all know they are prone to poor judgment at times) recover from a disaster? How do sisters relate as adults? How does a
The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan is a 2016 Little, Brown Book Group publication.
After having read ‘What she Knew”, I have been on the lookout for more books by Gilly Macmillan. This one popped up on my digital library service a few weeks ago and without hesitation,I placed a hold on it.
While this is a dark and twisted little tale, it is not on the same caliber as “What She Knew’. When something like that happens, disappointment can leave me feeling let down, however, after giving it some th
Zoe and Lucas were almost ready – the first performance for Zoe since the accident – and her first performance with her step-brother by her side. The nerves were vibrating in them both, both in different ways. But Zoe knew once her fingers touched the keys and Lucas was playing beside her, she would be fine; they would be fine. Zoe’s mother Maria had been the instigator of this concert and also Zoe’s biggest supporter. But the monumental disturbance in the middle of their recital was the beginni ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Gilly Macmillan read. I struggled with an exact rating on this one, so I’m landing somewhere around a 3.75 to 4 stars. And here’s why:

Wow. The beginning of this book was great. It sucked me in quickly, and I could not put it down. The chapters are very short, and they alternate between different characters’ perspectives. The Perfect Girl is a psychological thriller that tells the story of Zoe Maisey and her Second Chance Family. The events of the book take place within a 24+ h
Dale Harcombe
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four a half stars.
After reading her earlier book Burnt Paper Sky, I was thrilled to bits to win an ARC from The Reading Room and the publisher. Originally titled Butterfly in the Dark it has undergone a change of name and is now The Perfect Girl. Perfect the book is not, but it is an absolutely compelling read about Zoe, a teenage musical prodigy and her family. In her other life, Zoe was convicted of having caused the death of their teenagers. Now she is back trying to resurrect the career that
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is fair to say that this an "it" book. You only have to look at the front cover to see the dreaded (for me at least) line, "for anyone who loved The Girl on the Train, It's a must-read". While this is not uncommon being compared to big name books it does heighten my expectations. It also means the book lives or dies by what it delivers. Can it live up to those lofty pieces of praise.

Originally titled Butterfly in the Dark, the story revolves around teenage musical prodigy Zoe Maisey. Years ea
Joanne Harris
This book, kindly sent to me by the publisher, is heavily marketed to those readers who enjoyed THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and GONE GIRL. Full disclosure: I didn't much like either of those, and so it's not all that surprising that this one didn't grip me either. I wish it had: the basic premise is pretty good, and if you did enjoy GONE GIRL and the little flotilla of similarly-marketed novels that followed in its wake, you'll probably like this one, too. The reasons I didn't are probably more to do ...more
Bethan Watson
Zoe Guerin is a musical prodigy child genius. The story begins on a Sunday night, as Zoe, after causing the death of three teenagers and serving time for it, is about to make her musical comeback with her step-brother Lucas. She didn’t know that her mother would be dead by midnight.

This story is a gripping psychological thriller with a very intricate timeline, with only a few pages to each chapter. The writing was snappy and concise and flowed very well. At first, when I read ‘For anyone that l
Liz Barnsley
As a huge fan of “Burnt Paper Sky” I had that little worry that the second novel could not possibly be as good but noooooooo worries there – The Perfect Girl is a bang on target read, addictive, emotional, very intense at times with some really fascinating characters and a story with a few little twists in the tale…

So Zoe then, she was a pretty typical teenager except for her outstanding musical talent, but the typical teenager part threatened to destroy all that when one night at a party ended
 Li'l Owl
17 year old Zoe and her mum, Maria, are just beginning a brand new life ninety miles away from where they lived before, secure in the knowledge that they've successfully left the past behind for good. It's as if it never existed.
Maria has married Chris and now Zoe has a step brother, Lucas, and a new baby sister, Grace. Chris and Lucas have no idea what Zoe and her mum are hiding and neither one talks about her life "before." Zoe thinks that only she and her mum know about her past.

They were wr
Rachel Hall
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Perfect Girl is a touchingly profound story of a parent fulfilling their dreams through their child and simultaneously a heartbreaking insight into just how a parents misplaced nurturing can focus undo emphasis on one aspect of a child's character, honing it to the point of obsession and thereby coming to define a child by their ability. This is a tragic story which should be compulsory reading for all parents nowadays and it is both a poignant and deeply thought provoking read. In an increa ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Written by Gilly Macmillan
2016; 448 Pages (William Morrow)
Genre: suspense, psychological thriller

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS)

Here we go again with another "Girl" book. The girl in this case is Zoe Maisey, a music prodigy, and she was perfect, once. One day Zoe is a good girl and the next she is serving time for causing the death of three fellow teens. She is now out and trying to get her life back. Her mother, in a new marriage with a stepson and a child
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

The writing in this one was spot on: it gave the book a dark, hopeless feel that underlined the plot. Even the attitudes and personalities of the characters fit into this unhappy pathology- whiny, paranoid, damaged. There's no real happiness here, it had the equivalent effect of a film scene opening with darkened skies, pouring rain, shadows, and a creaking old timber house with broken windows. You know bad s*** is going to happen.

(view spoiler)
Mackey St
To say that The Perfect Girl was a real page turner would be an understatement for me. Once I read the first page I didn't stop reading until I completely finished the book! That rarely happens...
The storyline appears simple enough: child prodigy, once in trouble with the law, now making a comeback but suddenly her mother is murdered. However, there is SO much more to this story and so much history with the characters within the story that nothing at all is simple. Nothing. Not even the ending.
Judy Collins
Gilly Macmillan returns following What She Knew with her second gripping psychological thriller, THE PERFECT GIRL -a hypnotic literary domestic suspense mystery; a teen, a family of dark secrets, a performance, and the lengths they will go to protect those they love.

How small initial differences may lead to large unforeseen consequences over time. A first and second life. Is there hope for a third? A Sunday Night performance—before and after.

Set in Bristol, Zoe Maisey, a musical prodigy—a
Ellen Gail
Well it's certainly a high three stars. 3.684? Maybe? There were certainly a few 1/10 deductions. I have to think on it a bit. But for right now I feel pretty comfortable saying that I liked parts of The Perfect Girl, certainly more than Macmillan's previous novel What She Knew. It's a pretty solid read, though not without balance issues, and it fails to stick the landing.

Yes I've been watching Olympic gymnastics nonstop. No I will not stop and be productive.

Zoe's a convicted killer. There are

This is a difficult review to write. On one hand I liked the suspense aspect of the book but I don't think I really connected to the characters. Zoe is a musical prodigy that was convicted of a terrible crime. It destroyed her family. Her mum has married again and had a new child. Her and Zoe call it their Second Chance Family. They might need more that two chances to get this right....
I received a copy from Edelweiss and the publisher for my honest opinion.
I received this via Goodreads FirstReads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

DNF at page 106

Couldn't get into it, was bored and couldn't connect with anyone or anything in the story.

I have one of her other books in my pile so I'll still give it a try one day down the road.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
Just fantastic!! The book moves quickly from the first page throughout the entire journey. Lots of surprises. I enjoyed the changing narrators, it added a great layer to the story. Highly recommend!
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Gilly Macmillan is the internationally bestselling author of WHAT SHE KNEW (previously published as BURNT PAPER SKY in some territories), THE PERFECT GIRL, ODD CHILD OUT & I KNOW YOU KNOW (available September 2018).

Gilly is Edgar Award nominated and an ITW award finalist. Her books have been translated into over 20 languages.

She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern Califor
More about Gilly Macmillan

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“I believe that if you are lucky enough to have a child, then you should love them, whether or not society labels them as flawed, whether or not you label them as flawed. “You” 3 likes
“long odds don’t always make any difference at all. Somebody always makes up that small percentage of people to whom unlikely or desperate things happen, and there’s actually nothing to say it can’t be you.” 1 likes
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