The Guncle, a review by Amy

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The Guncle
Steven Rowley

336 pages
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Published May 25, 2021


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“Guncle Rule #8: Live your life to the fullest every single day, because every day is a gift.”

ALL the STARS. All the emotions. I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more. And when I turned the last page I was devastated it was over. Rowley has created the absolute perfect summer read. It’s full of heart and whimsy and life lessons. It’s witty and endearing and heart melting.

Patrick is adrift without an anchor. His witty comebacks and perfectly styled caftans might make him seem at the top of his game, but he’s not. He claims to be retired from acting, but the truth is that he’s stopped living a full life. He’s settling for a solitary, lonely existence.

Grant and Maisie, Patrick’s nephew and niece, should be engaged in all the joys of childhood. But their mother just died, and their dad is heading to rehab.

This motley band of misfits…Patrick, Maisie, and Grant… are thrown together in less than ideal circumstances. Somehow though, it becomes the perfect dynamic for each of them to learn to overcome and thrive.

Maisie and Grant are utterly adorable, completely pinchable, and expertly written. But the star of the book is exactly who it says on the cover…Guncle. I adored Gay Uncle Patrick, or GUP.  His Guncle rules. His sarcasm. His openness. His eccentricities! (I mean… Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company is his fashion icon!) He’s certainly not your typical parental role model. He offers martinis to the 6 year old and regularly quotes Oscar Wilde and Grey Gardens. But it turns out that his unorthodox ways were practically perfect in every way.

The most beautiful part of the book is the relationship the three of them build. The way Patrick learns to nurture the children and lean in to their needs and grief…it melted my heart. He gives them the perfect mix of distraction (a pink Christmas tree, a Pegasus pool float, and plenty of cake!) and opportunity to process their feelings (getting them a dog, writing a last letter to Mom). They laugh together, and they cry together. Most importantly, he reminds them to live in the moment and be comfortable in themselves. Together, they experience the sorrows of grief and the joy of healing.

Rowley’s extrapolation of grief is poignant and cathartic. New grief and old grief. Learning to embrace it while also letting it go. Despite Patrick’s own pain, he is able to comfort the kids, and somehow that frees him to deal with emotions he’s kept buried deep. Rowley handles this hard subject in a lighthearted manner. As someone who has been knee deep in grief recently, this story felt like the warm hug my heart needed.

I can’t emphasize this enough…this is a must read. It’s the perfect mix of humor and heart. A perfect book hug.

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” —Oscar Wilde”

Happy reading friends!


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