Friday, 25 February 2011
By Michael Baron
Published by The Story Plant
Published in 2011
I was kindly sent this book by the publisher but not paid for my review.
We all know that guy. The guy who can hardly keep it in his pants, the one who seems willing to trample on anyone to get where he wants to go, the one always seen after work with a drink in his hand and a witty comeback on his lips. This guy in this novel is Dylan Hunter. Dylan has got it made - he lives in New York, has a fantastic PR job, and a string of women after him. Even though he acknowledges that he will eventually settle down, he doubts it will be any time before he hits 40... that is until Diane and Spring walk into his life at 3 a.m. one morning.
Diane is someone he had a fling with a few years back in Chicago, so when she arrives on his doorstep with a daughter about the right age naturally Dylan assumes she's his. She's not but she makes a huge impression on his life all the same. Diane and Spring stay with Dylan for a few days and give this perpetual bachelor a taste of domesticity - one he finds pretty enjoyable. But because life never goes how you'd expect it to, he suddenly finds that he's in for far more than just a taste when he becomes Spring's sole guardian.
This book is a fresh perspective on a familiar story. Normally we'd hear about the single Mom moving to the Big Apple with daughter in tow from the mom herself but this time we're hearing it from the guy. The result is that when reading this you get both a comfortable feeling when reading a narrative you've heard before (but love revisiting) and a feeling of newness. It's an interesting combination but one I very much enjoyed. The story is a good, easy read which keeps the reader involved. The development of the character of Dylan is particularly satisfying to watch but I think my favourite person in this novel is undoubtedly Spring. Spring is the embodiment of the joy of childhood - the innocence, playfulness and timely reminder that there are far more important things in life than wondering about your next sales pitch or chatting up someone at a bar. Spring gives Dylan's life depth and meaning and transports him from being a 'lad' into being a man.
The ending of the book works, but it wasn't what I was expecting. I was rather hoping for something a little different (admittedly, the more predictable ending) to what actually happened and as a result the book finished on a bit of a hiss compared to the roar it had been most of the way through. I know, I know, endings are the hardest part of anything to write but if you're given a choice between doing something unexpected and doing the expected (which usually gives the readers what they want) you really need to have a very cool unexpected ending to make it worthwhile. I'm hard to please, what can I say?
Aside from my minor quibble with the ending, I really liked this book. It's perfect Sunday afternoon/holiday reading - not too heavy, not too light, engaging and satisfying. If you'd like to read a love story/coming of age tale from the bloke's perspective, this is a good place to start.