The Imperfects: A Novel

Image of The Imperfects: A Novel
Release Date: 
May 5, 2020
Park Row
Reviewed by: 

“Meyerson does an admirable job of answering the question she posed to herself, and by the end of the story, ties up all the loose ends that she tossed out to the reader from the beginning.”

Meet the Millers: Deborah, the mother; Ashley, the married daughter; Jake, the failed screenwriter son; and Beck . . . never Rebecca . . . the paralegal daughter.

They don’t much like each other, but find themselves thrown together when Helen, the matriarch of the family dies and leaves them with a presumably unsolvable problem—diamonds, specifically a 137.27 carat diamond that belonged to the Austrian monarchy, or was it the Italian government, or any one of a dozen other claimants?

As the family gathers to honor Helen’s passing, Beck, who takes the lead as Helen’s executor and the one family member who remained closest to Helen, discovers that Helen’s will is most unusual. The family house is left to Deborah, Helen’s only child and a mother to the other Millers. To say that Deborah was a poor example of a mother would be to understate the truth in biblical proportions: a mother who ignored her children and is depicted more as the youngest child than the mother.

The rest of the estate, such as it isn’t, is left to Ashley, Jake, and Beck. With one small caveat: a diamond brooch that goes to Beck. Not sure if there is any value to this bauble, Beck takes it to a gemologist, Vicktor Castanza, who informs her of its value, both monetarily and historically: upwards of ten million dollars and of royal historical value.

But Amy Meyerson’s story, the imperfects is about a lot more than just a mystery behind an inheritance, it’s about the broken family and if it can make amends.

Meyerson has developed an exceptional cast of characters.

Helen, the matriarch who carried secrets for nine decades and into her grave, leaving behind only small crumbs for the family to decipher.

Deborah, estranged from her children as well as her mother; a woman who, abandoned as a child by her father, never came to terms with adulthood, much less parenthood.

Ashley, the eldest daughter, married to a man whom she loves, but who harbors a secret that leads to financial annihilation if not remedied immediately.

Jake, the son, who saw fleeting success as a screenwriter of a film about the women in his family—a film of humiliation to these women, and who now is unemployed and with little funds.

Beck, the daughter and protagonist of the story who must bring the family together, and yet given her options, would rather leave well enough alone.

When Beck confesses to her family that she has this diamond in her possession, the questions become 1) How much can we get for it? 2) Where did it come from? 3) How long has Helen had it? and 4) Who can really claim ownership?

And so, the search begins, as does Meyerson’s challenge to take the hostilities of this group and weave them together into a renewed family. The question is—is this even possible, considering the animosities that are so deep seated?

As word leaks out to the press and the authorities and the foreign entities each demanding that the diamond be returned to their country, the question the press wants to know is, How did Helen get her hands on a jewel of such tremendous value?

And that is the question that Meyerson uses to build the story going forward. The search for Helen’s past takes them to Austria to learn about the royal family prior to World War I, where the truth begins to unravel and the secrets of Helen’s life roll out like water through a sieve.

And with each truth, the family inches a little closer to addressing the pains they have endured, how those pains came to be, and if the family be repaired. Meyerson does an admirable job of answering the question she posed to herself, and by the end of the story, ties up all the loose ends that she tossed out to the reader from the beginning.

While there is one particular thread left hanging, the ending is neatly resolved to the satisfaction of the reader. Meyerson’s writing style is presented in an omniscient point of view, with characters criss-crossing one another in scenes and chapters, and yet such a normally passive style works well with The Imperfects.