Keeper and Kid by Edward Hardy
2008 Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press)
Finished on 4/29/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Eight years ago, James Keeper fell in love with his upstairs neighbor in Boston, a sassy pastry chef with gray eyes and a fierce attitude. They got married, found a dog, and shopped for cilantro. But conflicting schedules and a real estate deal gone bad took its toll on the twenty-somethings in love. One divorce later, the hand-me-down chairs were separated, the potato masher custody settled, and Keeper moved to Providence to work with his best friend selling antiques at a quirky shop called Love and Death.
A new job, a new love, and a new life now in place, Keeper is in a comfortable situation. Business is steady, Leah (the new love) is intriguing and passionate, and Keeper's friends always turn up for Sunday evening Card Night.
But one phone call from his former mother-in-law changes everything. And so days later, Keeper comes away with a son he never knew he had, and life all of a sudden takes on a new meaning.
Leo, the precocious three-year-old who sports Keeper's square chin, is more than a handful---he eats only round foods, refuses to bathe, thinks he's a bear, and refers to Leah as 'that man.' For a guy who never thought he'd be a parent, Keeper is thrown headfirst into fatherhood---and has no idea what to do. As Keeper and Leo adjust to the shock of each other and their suddenly very different lives, Keeper begins to let the people in his life in, in turns strange and heartwarming, funny and painful. But some, like Leah, aren't so eager for change.
In this humorous and poignant novel, Edward Hardy explores the depths of modern love, parenthood, and compromise. Keeper and Kid is the story of how a normal guy receives an unexpected gift and in turn must learn to ask more of others and himself. A coming-of-age story for the guy who thought he had already grown up, Keeper and Kid is a sharp and witty account of what we do for love.
I'm always a bit hesitant to say yes when I get an email from an author, asking if I'd like to review his book. Forget Google alerts. It's pretty much a given in this situation that they're going to read my review (and hope that those who read my blog will go out and buy their book), so I want to be fair, yet I also don't want to hurt anyone's feelings with negative comments. Edward Hardy need not worry. Keeper and Kid is a wonderful book. Anyone who's raised a child (or taken care of a toddler for any length of time) will appreciate the humor in this story. Reading the book outside on our deck, I found myself laughing out loud so many times, I began to worry the neighbors would wonder what was really in my coffee mug!
I'm not sure how I missed this book; the cover is bright and cheery and one that would normally entice me to give it more than a passing glance. Yet, I don't even remember seeing it in the store! This will definitely go on my list of books to use on my summer picks display at work next month. (This month's end cap is set with my favorite coming of age books.)
My daughter is in her twenties and it's been over a year since I was "nanny" to my two nieces, but I still remember the joys and frustrations of taking care of a three-year-old. Vividly! You know. A three-year-old who knows exactly how she likes her sandwich cut (with the crusts cut off and sliced on a diagonal. But not if it's a tuna sandwich! Then you leave the crusts on and cut it in quarters. Duh!), or why she has to wear her tutu with her snow boots at nap time, or why she simply must get in the car on the right hand side and heaven forbid, NOT the left side. Three-year-olds can be quite
My only quibble is that I found the romantic drama between Keeper and Leah a bit tedious. Quite frankly, I would've liked to have read more about Leo's antics and the hilarious dialogue between Keeper and Leo and a little bit less about Keeper's self-pity and juvenile attempts to win back Leah. But never once did I feel like tossing the book against the wall or calling it quits. Of course, now I'm anxious to check out Hardy's debut novel (Geyser Life). That one slipped under my radar, too!
I guess it's lucky for me that I missed Keeper and Kid when it first came out. Now I own a signed first edition. Thanks, Edward. You've got a keeper!