Title: The Guncle
Author: Steven Rowley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Narrator: Steven Rowley
Length: 11 hrs 23 mins (326 pages)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Penguin Audio
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Content Warnings: grief, death, death of parent, addiction, car accident, drug abuse, alcohol, sexual assault, homophobia, cancer
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. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.
So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, 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 is a book about grief, but it brings so much joy and healing. Patrick, a reclusive actor with a stalled career, finds himself the unexpected guardian of his niece and nephew after their mother passes away and Patrick’s brother enters rehab to cope with addiction and grief. This book is obviously heavy, but it is also incredibly sweet, heartwarming, emotional, and hilarious. I love the way this book approaches grief, family, love, and the lifelong process of finding yourself.
The audiobook narrated by the author was wonderful, and I highly recommend that format!