The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

The Guncle is a very contemporary novel, with a moral that is timeless. The premise is one that I can’t imagine in a mainstream fiction book even twenty years ago: two young children who have recently lost their mother to cancer and their father to rehab move in with their out-and-proud gay uncle (guncle) in Palm Springs. Hilarity ensues, as it always does in Steven Rowley’s novels. The kids learn to enjoy a leisurely brunch (and lupper), the Tooth Fairy brings signed playbills, and they all celebrate Christmas in July–complete with a pink tinsel tree.

The Guncle isn’t all fun and games, though. Guncle Patrick struggles to find a way to help the kids talk about their grief, and to deal with his own. When he finally hits upon something that seems to work–making funny YouTube videos together–it brings his disapproving sister down on them with a fury. He is also trying to figure out his stalled acting career and a new romance, and the stress seems almost overwhelming. But Patrick handles everything with a great sense of humor and a huge heart.

Throughout the book, Patrick teaches the kids “Guncle Rules” to live by, including: cameras are not always your friend, if you can’t tone it–tan it, and (my personal favorite) fun drinks make everything more interesting. But the rule I took away from reading The Guncle is a life lesson for everyone: as long as you do things with love, you get it right in the end.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ROWLEY)

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