A man in jeans and a blazer stands on a rural road with a leather book bag over his shoulder and a leather-bound book in his hand

Book Review: Your Perfect Year

This book is a little rusty in my memory, since I read it back in 2020, but I wanted to make sure I got the review in since it was a translated book and I know I certainly have not read enough of those in my lifetime. Your Perfect Year was originally written in German, and if I’m not mistaken is the first German-to-English translation I’ve ever read. After a quick refresh of my memory with the synopsis, the plot came rushing back to me. It’s amazing how many books I read generally take place in the US or the UK, so it was nice to have a change of scenery and have this be in Europe for no other reason than the character lived there. I should incorporate more translations into my lineup—a fresh perspective is always nice.

For hyper-particular publishing heir Jonathan Grief, the day starts like any other—with a strict morning fitness regimen that’ll keep his divorced, easily irritated, cynical, forty-two-year-old self in absolutely flawless physical condition. But all it takes to put a crimp in his routine is one small annoyance. Someone has left a leather-bound day planner with the handwritten title Your Perfect Year in his spot on his mountain bike at his fitness course!

Determined to discover its owner, Jonathan opens the calendar to find that someone known only as “H.” has filled it in with suggestions, tasks, and affirmative actions for each day. The more he devotes himself to locating the elusive H., the deeper Jonathan is drawn into someone else’s rich and generous narrative—and into an attitude adjustment he desperately needs.

He may have ended up with a perfect year by accident, but it seems fate has set Jonathan on a path toward healing, feeling, and maybe even loving again…if only he can meet the stranger who’s changing his life one day at a time.

My musings
It has been a long time since I’ve read a novel translated into English, and this is probably the clunkiest one I’ve read. The dialogue felt heavy and unrealistic. That being said, the I really enjoyed the story! The characters were both likeable in their own way. I liked how the narrative alternated, and I was surprised that my favourite narrator kept switching as the plot developed. I love the idea of the diary and agree that if you lived someone’s perfect year, you’d really get to know them quickly (and fall in love, if that was what you were looking for). Really cute!


Illustration of a man on a bench reading a book and a woman walking by holding the same book. There's a cityscape in the background.

“In order to gain new experiences, to expand your horizons, to give fate—or serendipity or whatever you want to call it—a chance. And that only happens if we say yes to things.” —Charlotte LucasYour Perfect Year

Thank you to Ben White on Unsplash for the featured photo.

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