Recap: It’s not often that you come across a book about a single, domestic father. But that’s the premise in this tale about a dermatologist, named Jon, who’s lost in life and suddenly thrust into single fatherhood. The story opens with Jon performing surgery on a patient, but it quickly becomes clear that he’s not totally focused. We come to learn Jon’s got a 6-month-old baby at home, named Lily — though he affectionately calls her Bean.
Their relationship is the only relationship in his life that he’s truly sure of; it’s a relationship that thrives on unconditional love. His closest friends are his co-workers, who are also in their 30’s, but a bit lost. But things start to change when Jon meets Ash, a graduate student who attends class where Jon runs. The two become running buddies, just as one of Jon’s quirky acquaintances develops a crush on him.
Suddenly a life that was so simple has become complicated. Jon becomes more uncertain than ever, trying to navigate all the women in his life, while dealing with a dark past.
Analysis: This is the first time I’ve read a book about single fatherhood. As common as it is in real life, we don’t often come across it in literature. It’s a unique perspective into family life and one that author Nick Earls handles well. He demonstrates that it’s not easy and certainly not predictable. Jon stumbles. He forgets things. But he loves. And as nervous as he is about what kind of father he is and if he’s doing everything right — especially without the help or guidance of a wife – he learns and grows.
His daughter helps him mature into a proper adult. But so does his “running buddy” Ash, who often puts him in his placs and teaches him about life, despite their difference in age. Jon’s job is to fix skin; he is a dermatologist after all. But he comes to learn that no one has perfect skin and no one is perfect.
Earls’ writing not only properly captures the emotional rollercoaster of adulthood, relationships, and family, but he does it in a funny way too. There are hilarious moments — like when Jon pees on a cat or when he sings in grocery stores while choosing the right toilet paper — that we start to think “Jon is such a dork. But he’s just like me.” Whether you’re male or female, the main character is relatable and real.
MVP: Ash. Initially, she seems like a girl who’s far too young and equally as lost at Jon. Well, she still may be a little unsure of the future, but she’s certainly not unsure of herself. She speaks her mind. She openly adopts Jon and Lily into her life. She doesn’t run because of fear or intimidation, and her courage, openness, and knowledge beyond her years makes her the perfect yin to Jon’s yang.