Date Read: September 23, 2018
Single mother Juliet is struggling with her self-confidence, body image, and self control, and she’s living paycheck to paycheck to raise her precocious ten-year-old son, Zac. Fortunately, Juliet has her parents Mick and Lynda to help her out, but their relationship isn’t quite as harmonious as it used to be. Mick and Lynda love Zac like their own child, perhaps because he can act as a replacement for Jamie, the son they lost far too soon in an alcohol-inspired tragedy when Jamie was just eighteen years old. What’s more, tensions are high surrounding the subject of Zac’s absentee father, Liam, whose involvement in Jamie’s death was too significant for Lynda to ever forgive.
All this considered, things get a little bit tricky when Zac grows restless of not having a father and begins the “Find Dad Mission” to, well, find his dad. For his whole life, his mother has told him that his dad left before he was born, likely to shirk the responsibility of fatherhood, and Zac is better off without him. Zac is sure that if his father had known him, he never would have walked out, but things get complicated when Zac asks around and discovers that his dad did meet him and didn’t “do a runner” until weeks after Zac had been born. Frustrated with his family for lying and heartbroken that his dad could have left, Zac doubles down on the FDM to meet his father once and for all.
Mingled in with the FDM story is an underlying plot of Zac’s school life. Zac being a chubby kid, some faculty at the school broach the situation with Juliet, informing her that Zac is being bullied at school and that they think it’s a result of his weight, which, for his height, qualifies him as obese. Juliet launches on the Get Zac Happy Campaign to help him– and her alongside him– lose weight and improve their quality of life. Into this mix comes Juliet’s ultra-fit, personal trainer ex-boyfriend who seems, for all intents and purposes, pretty darn perfect. Regan throws in a little will-they-won’t-they here for our reading pleasure.
Ultimately, nothing about the story shows loads of creativity or ingenuity; it’s a common story theme with a predictable yet still satisfying ending. What makes this book shine, to me, and pushes it above 3 stars for me, is the variety of writing style between the differently narrated chapters. Narration is split between Zac, Juliet, and Mick: three people of different ages and in very different stages of life. The voice of each character is so clearly defined; particularly, Zac’s chapters sound perfectly, naively, and precociously reflective of youth. This is one of the most successful examples of split narration that I’ve read in a long while.
Grab Little Big Love here or at your local library! Happy reading! 🙂