(Even if you don’t want to read this review, skip down to the bottom; I have an anecdote from my babysitting days.)
Title: Keeper & Kid
Author: Edward Hardy
Fiction; 294 pages
Published January 8, 2008
I won this book a little over a month ago. I thought the premise was good: It’s about a 30-something guy (James Keeper) who doesn’t know that he and his ex-wife (Cynthia) have a child (Leo) together until she passes away and her will indicates that her ex-husband is the father and should be the child’s guardian. Keeper is very much in love with his girlfriend, Leah, but she made it clear before they ever knew about Leo that children were out of the question. The story takes off from here, with Keeper trying to manage a child who has normal toddler idiosyncracies, but not knowing how to deal with them as he was basically just ‘given’ a child.
This book sucked me in from the very beginning. I think, perhaps, this was due to what I would call stream of consciousness type of writing. The writing flowed in a way that made me feel I was experiencing what Keeper was experiencing, with the same digression of thought that people normally have. We are brought into Keeper’s thoughts and hopes and fears without hesitation. He’s a very believable narrator; he doesn’t whitewash any of his actions or feelings, and it is this honesty that is so endearing.
The author doesn’t romanticize the father/son relationship. On the contrary, both Keeper and Leo are wary of each other, pushing boundaries and trying to settle into a routine that is both new and uncomfortable.
The only nagging thought I had about this novel was how clear Leo was in articulating words. I know each kid is different, but my friend’s daughter is three and a half years old, and she is definitely not nearly as articulate. Don’t get me wrong, Leo has problems communicating like any child, but he seems to be ahead of the curve.
The Amazon synopsis claims the book is predictable…I disagree on that. But perhaps I think less while reading a novel than others. I let the story take me on the journey and rarely do I crane my neck to see if I can figure out where we are headed. This, to me (trying to guess the end), is a lot different than when I enjoy the story as it goes along and then perhaps read the ending 50 pages into the book.
The book just got better and better. While I was reading it, I was rating it in my head: originally I thought an 88 or 89 would suffice as the book was really good but not great yet; by the end of the book I definitely thought it deserved a rating in the 90s. This book is definitely a light, but very fun and entertaining read. Here’s some of my favorite quotes:
(Keeper speaking to his son, Leo) ‘I’m working on it,’ I said. ‘We’ll see if we can solve the problem. We are working on the problem and we will solve it.’ (I loved this quote because the author really seemed to nail the male thinking: solve/fix the problem.)
(Keeper’s mom talking to him) ‘All right.’ She pulled a large translucent blue spoon from the drawer. ‘This is your mother making a pronouncement, but you’re a captive audience. My Aunt Dot, who you never knew, would say that much of life is received rather than taken and your task is to receive it gracefully….’ (Ahh, what a wonderful philosophical point, one that I definitely have a hard time with. 🙂 )
(Keeper’s dad talking to him about raising a child) Dad’s finger circled. ‘Remember, you think you’re steering the ship but in reality you’re just holding on.’
(Keeper and Leo <ahem> communing in nature (in the snow, no less) We stood in the headlights beside some pine trees, arched our backs, and drew things in the gray snow. ‘Know what?’ Leo shouted. ‘You have a hunormous penis.’
That last quote cracked me up because when I was younger I would babysit a lot, and in particular I would babysit for this one family. There was an oldest boy, middle girl, and youngest boy. The youngest boy had been potty trained but liked to have someone in the bathroom with him. This particular time I was watching them, the youngest boy was about three years old and had to use the bathroom. As he was peeing, he looked up at me and said, “I have a small penis, my brother has a bigger penis, but my dad has a REALLY BIG penis!”
Rating: 95 out of 100