May 4, 2008

Keeper and Kid

Keeper and Kid by Edward Hardy
Contemporary Fiction
2008 Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press)
Finished on 4/29/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb

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 stubborn particular. I've glanced through the book, checking out all the passages I marked with Post-It flags. There are quite a few, but they only make sense in the context of several paragraphs. You'll just have to trust me on this. Keeper and Kid is one funny, moving book.

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!


  1. Glad you liked it! I have this book to read and review, too. :)

  2. It sounds wonderful! I wonder if it will make me even more nostalgic for those beautiful childhood days I shared with my son; I'm pretty sure it would just from reading your little description of sandwich cutting/nap apparel. How lucky to have a signed copy! Lucky? Naw, I guess that's just a credit to you that an author would ask you to review his/her book.

  3. It does have a nice cover. Your review is enthusiastic and well-written. Another one to add to my list.

    I'm reading a book right now that an author sent me and I'm not enjoying it all. Like you say, it's always a bit iffy accepting a book from the author.

  4. Les,

    I spotlighted this at ontheporchswing and then read it when it came out. It had moments when I really liked it and then moments when it was just "okay" for me. But all in all, I was glad I read it - and not sorry that I spent money on it at the bookstore.

    Linda in VA

  5. Andi - I saw that you got a copy, too. I wonder how you like it. I really related to the parenting aspect and wonder if those without kids will like it as much as I did.

    Bellezza - Well, it certainly didn't make me nostalgic for those toddler days! I prefer a twentysomething-year-old rather than a three-year-old any day! My favorite age, however, was probably when my daughter was between 8 and 12.

    Booklogged - Thank you! It was a fun review to write.

    Good lucky with the review for the book you're reading right now! Maybe there's some redeeming quality to it?

    Linda - I thought it sounded vaguely familiar. I must have seen the author spotlight on the group site. I'm glad you liked it in spite of the uneveness.

  6. This sounds like a really sweet book and I agree, the cover is eye-catching. I'd love to know what is on your endcap!

  7. I love 'laugh out loud' books. It is such an extreme pleasure to find yourself chuckling when reading a book. Those are the ones I love to re-read to my wife so that we can laugh together.

  8. This book totally passed under my radar screen too. I'd never heard of it until I started seeing on blogs. Now, I also have a copy to review! Yay. I keep hearing such good things about it that I can't wait.

  9. Tara - I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's "sweet." But it is quite humorous and, at times, heartwarming. Stick around. I plan to post an entry about my end cap in the next few days. It's been one of the most successful, in regards to actual sales.

    Carl - Me, too. Since reading your comment, I've been thinking about a post (and an end cap at work) of my favorite laugh out loud books. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Iliana - Oooh! I can't wait to hear what you think. I received a very nice email from the author today. I'll definitely read more by him in the future. I hope this "blog push" helps him with his current novel.


I may not answer your comments in a timely fashion, but I always answer. Check back soon!