The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Have you ever read a book that made you both laugh and cry? The Guncle by Steven Rowley was the lightest, yet the most heartrending, book that I have read this year. Rowley’s storytelling had me yearning for happiness and serenity for all the characters, while tearing up at the difficulties they were going through.

Patrick is famous. Well he used to be anyway. A once-famous gay sitcom star with a desire to hide away from the world, Patrick moved away from the hustle of the world to Palm Springs where he can relax in his pool away from all the people who insist on bothering him. When an unexpected family tragedy has him flying back to Connecticut on short notice, Patrick finds his peace shattered.

Patrick isn’t a bad uncle. He’s always loved his niece, Maisie, and his nephew, Grant. He loves them in short doses: weeklong visits when they come to see him or when he goes back for the holidays. The important part is he gets to go home after he’s done. After all, he’s GUP, Gay Uncle Patrick. The idea of relating to children and caring for them overwhelms him.

Back home in Connecticut after Masie and Grant have lost their mother and after Patrick’s brother(the children’s father) has a crisis of his own, Patrick is at a loss. Greg wants him to become the children’s primary guardian and take them back to California with him. For 90 days, Patrick will be the sole caretaker for Maisie and Grant, a nine- and a six-year-old respectively. He is overwhelmed and has no idea what to expect. Realizing that Maisie and Grant need the escape as much as he does, Patrick brings them back to California with him.

Armed with a set of Guncle Rules, Patrick quickly realizes he has no idea what he’s doing. The kids are overwhelming, loud, and dealing with tough emotions while being around Patrick who they don’t know very well. Helping them deal with their emotions forces Patrick to deal with his own: he’s barely holding it together years after his love died, his career has stalled, and his lifestyle is not exactly suited to children. Patrick finds himself responsible for two young children and that responsibility cannot be waved off by joking or spoiling the kids with treats. He must find a balance between his old life and his new. What he discovers surprises them all.

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