Saturday, March 22, 2008

Keeper and the Kid by Ed Hardy

Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin's Press(2007)

James Keeper is a man who finds himself emotionally at odds. After his marriage ends, he moves to Rhode Island to work with his best male friend selling antiques at a store called Love and Death. His girlfriend, Leah, is wonderful - smart, funny, filled with a sense of life that keeps James on his toes and passionately in love. Things seem to be going extremely well, at last.

Of course, life always throws curve balls. Keeper receives a phone call from his former mother-in-law advising him that his ex is ill and asking him to come to Boston to pick up the dog. It soon becomes clear that the dog is not a four legged animal but a two legged boy. Keeper has a son, Leo, who is now without a mother and forced to live with his inept and terrified father. Exhibiting all of the traits of a man who never wanted to or dreamed of being a father, James lets Leo eat what he wants, sleep in his clothes and bath once a week. As the relationship between father and son tenuously strengthens, Keeper's relationship with Leah ends. She can not allow this child into her life, a life that she has become comfortable with and has no intent on changing. Turning the typical genre on its head, Hardy's bad guy is the woman who can't commit to family versus the man who must.

Hardy's writing is at times poignant, at times humorous. The author succeeds when he focuses on Keeper's character arc. The author falters on story line - it is difficult, if not impossible to emphatize with many of the characters. Leah, at first likeable, becomes so disagreeable that a reader's first instinct is to put the book down and walk away. Keeper's initial inability to accept his son is offputting, if not absolutely frustrating.

Ed Hardy's writing falls into the new genre of male lit, a challenge to the chick lit genre that was huge years back. Whether or not men will actually pick up a book such as this will remain to be seen.

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