Perfect Peace by Daniel Black

November 6, 2011 

Reading Perfect Peace by Daniel Black words like intense, satisfying, funny, shocking, heart-rending and tragic help describe the gamut of emotions bubbling up from its pages. Never before have I read such a brotherly drama that tugs at the human heart. The author’s style is reminiscent of Tony Morrison’s early works with its folk lore quality and distinguishing contemporary realism. Anyone raised in a rural southern environment during the mid 20th century would have no problem relating to the setting of this Arkansas black community.

The story opens during the Spring of 1940 with the birth of Gus and Emma Jean Peace’s seventh son. Emma Jean’s long awaited desire and hope for a daughter are dashed but only momentarily. She resorts to blackmailing the mid-wife into silence then presents the child name Perfect to her husband and six sons as a girl and manages to carry out the masquerade for more than a half dozen years. We all know that Walter Scott’s quote “Oh what a tangle web we weave when we practice to deceive.” A calamity unfolds more intense than any Tennessee Williams psychological drama.

Probing themes like nurture vs. nature, the ignorance and superstitions associated with homophobia, and the generational consequences of parental cruelty. We follow Perfect’s growth and transformation from the perfect little girl to the confident man Paul along with the growth and development of his six brothers. It’s a journey of gratitude and forgiveness watching each child achieving success and a proper place in the world despite the parental missteps.

Daniel Black has done a superb job in the presenting these three dimensional characters as human and lovable despite their human flaws something required of every family. Thoroughly entertaining Perfect Peace is a great read I recommend it highly. 5 Stars

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