Keeper and Kid, by Edward Hardy. Published 2008 by Macmillan. Fiction.
"How many longest days of your life can you have in a row?"
This is a question that Jimmy Keeper, a thirty-six year old single man, asks himself a few days after taking charge of his three year old son Leo. Keeper had only learned that Leo existed a week or so prior to taking custody of him, following Leo's mother's (and Keeper's ex-wife's) sudden death.
The answer, according to Keeper and Kid, is: a lot. Keeper, divorced, afraid of commitment and working in the antiques business, lives with his girlfriend Leah and is completely unprepared for child rearing. The first night he has the boy, Leo falls out of bed because Keeper didn't install the rails right away. And it gets worse from there. Keeper's first few days with Leo are told almost hour by hour, and this level of detail reinforces the sheer terror of taking on this huge responsibility. As I was reading this I thought, at least when you're pregnant you have nine months to get used to the idea- decorate, buy all the stuff, whatnot. I can't imagine how I would react to such an upset- never mind the impact it would have on the child, and how the personalities and needs of the individuals would swirl and collide. The fact that he finds out about his son in what has to be the most callous way possible only reinforced the sympathy I felt for him. And Leo is a little handful. A good kid, but a handful. Hardy kept me reading with the fast pace and breathless first person narration. I felt for Keeper and his struggle to keep his (and Leo's) head above water, and to keep his life intact. Even though nothing more earth-shattering than pants-wetting happens, Hardy makes the little crises of everyday life feel like life or death.
For a relatively light and somewhat humorous read, I found Keeper and Kid to be un-put-down-able. And a lot of people seem to agree with me; I was chatting the other day with the manager of my local library branch, and, when he looked it up in the catalog, all of the library's copies had been checked out. No surprise. I'm sure Keeper and Kid will be popular with book clubs as well, for its slightly unusual, though sympathetic protagonist and all the discussions his situation could provoke. I liked this book a lot. It was a really engaging, fun read. I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book; I read it because the author contacted me through my blog and offered to send it to me. After reading some reviews on Amazon I thought it sounded interesting, so I said yes. I'm glad I did.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the author.