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The Guncle Review: Back-of-Book Description
A National Bestseller
An NPR Book of the Year
Finalist for the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards
From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor comes a warm and deeply funny novel about a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer.
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. So when tragedy strikes and Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian, he is, honestly, overwhelmed.
Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. But when his waggish set of “Guncle Rules” no longer appease Maisie and Grant’s parental void, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.
The Guncle Review: My Thoughts
Confession – I am very behind on posting my reviews. It’s now early August, but I actually started reading this book in June and finished it in early July.
I read The Guncle because I had heard good things about it and I won a copy of it from that Facebook book club I’m in. It was their pick for June – Pride Month – and since I had a free copy, I decided to give it a whirl!
I will say it was an excellent pick for Pride month as it talks a lot about loving and accepting yourself no matter who you are or how you’re different. And really, that’s a perfect message for anyone, any time of the year.
The main character is a gay man who is spending the summer with some children, one of whom is having a hard time dressing the way they’re “supposed to” for their gender. I think it touched on that really well – not at all in your face about it with a political agenda, just being loving and patient with a child. I really liked that.
The story was pretty good. I liked that it explored the changing friendship between the main character and the mother of his niece and nephew. It was interesting that the reader saw the main character deal with two different kinds of losses and how they changed him.
The characters varied in how developed they were. Some of the supporting ones felt real and fleshed out while others seemed pretty flat and only served as sort of props. But the main character was good and had what felt like a full arc.
The settings were written well and easy to picture. The writing didn’t stand out to me as fantastic, but it was pretty good. The dialogue was witty and fun to read, even though I didn’t get all the references to movies and Hollywood.
Favorite Quotes from The Guncle:
“What was the last day you were a child?”
“Some things, the older you get the less you actually know about them.”
“That’s why people die. To teach us the importance of living.”
“We’re hyper-connected, but at the same time desperately lonely. We’re overstimulated by bright lights in our faces all the time and the promise of more and more content, more and more people to follow, but we’re also numb, scrolling and scrolling past images we don’t even take the time to recognize, or form a cognizant thought about what they are saying. About us, the content creator, about life.”
“…perhaps happiness was destined to be temporary regardless, perhaps it never even stood a chance.”
“Self-love for gay people can be an act of survival…when the whole world is designed to point out that you’re different, it can be a way to endure.”
“…impossible promises made to oneself in youth are always going to be broken.”
“Anger is beautiful if you express it just right.”
“It was the thing [he] missed most about youth, the assumption that everything would work itself out. That and his back not hurting.”
The Guncle Review: In Conclusion
This was a pleasant book. I enjoyed it and its message but I wasn’t wowed by the story or the writing. 3.25 stars from me.
However, I am a straight woman who hasn’t experienced the family drama and loss, or societal hardships that the main character did, so for others, this book could hit them in a totally different way.
I would still recommend The Guncle to people who like family dramas, books about loss and change, or children as supporting characters. There’s also the large amount of old movie and sitcom references that would appeal to a lot of people. Really, it’s enjoyable and could appeal to a wide audience, I’m sure.
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