I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair, honest review. All opinions are my own.
Slight trigger warning: For anyone triggered by storylines involving dementia or the death of a loved one, reader discretion is advised.
A man’s struggle to keep his family and his life from falling apart plays out artfully in author Daniel Blake Smith’s upcoming novel Mr. Wonderful. A dramatic look into the life of modern academia and the struggle of a family man with an ailing father, a troubled adult son and a strained job put him on a path of self-discovery. Here is the synopsis:
In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.
Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.
Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”
When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.
In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.
This book was fantastic. The writing was honest and vivid in it’s imagery. Delving into themes of hope, dreams and challenging the definition of family, this story takes the reader on a journey with the characters to not only discover themselves but their place in the world. I’m sure many people in the world can relate to that feeling of staleness and restlessness in both your job and your life. This book captures the essence of these feelings perfectly, making you feel every frustration and painful emotion the characters emote in their dialogue both inner and outer. What struck with me was the story of Brian’s father, as he struggles through his last days. I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was suffering from dementia while in the hospital, and so the raw emotion and pain of dealing with a loss after months of dementia hit an emotional wellspring within me as a reader.
The characters are what made this story flow as smoothly as it did. The contrasting points of view between protagonist Brian and his son Danny showcase two very different views of life, and how two paths on the road to life can converge in unexpected ways. It’s a breathtaking study of family relationships, the complicated ties we have to family and how the past can affect the present and the future.
Overall I loved this book. Due out this Friday, January 19th, 2018, the novel Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith is a brilliant read that deserves your attention as the year begins, so if you haven’t yet either preorder or buy your copy today!