Author: Don Kenefick
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
First Published: 2013
Page Count: 333
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
A tale about the lives of a plucky father and son who must separately overcome great trials to try to make their dreams of love and happiness come true.
*Brilliant Writing *Lovable Characters
*Too Tidy Ending *Odd Story
“Among Londoners, a tiny number remained steadfastly trashproof.” Peter Goodwin has gone his whole life without the pleasure of love and companionship. He may be shy and a bit different, but he is a genuinely good man who had only put off his desire to create a family in order to take care of his ailing mother. His father, Christopher Goodwin, possessed the same meek disposition and longing for love. Both are able to find a woman who makes them happy, but the cruelties of war and the vengeful nature of a spoiled youth shatter their dreams. Will son or father be able to overcome their separate obstacles to win happiness?
The very first couple of pages where the author introduces us to Peter Goodwin attempting to solicit the services of a dating agency had me hooked. The author’s writing style is deliciously wonderful, full of vivid description and a vast vocabulary of words. It’s rare to find someone that can put words together in such a way that doesn’t feel pompous but like actual art that took no effort at all to assemble. And to top it all off, I felt like I was watching a quirky British rom-com in that first scene. It’s funny and clever, and you instantly fall in love with poor, innocent Peter who just wants to find love. Then there is the other half of the story, where the author introduces the readers to Peter’s father who is equally as innocently lovable and seems to fall into the same trouble as Peter when it comes to awkwardly traversing the world of dating. However, Christopher’s story takes a more dramatic turn when he becomes a prisoner of war for the Japanese in WWII. The torture he endures was so brutal I had to Google prisoner treatment by the Japanese in WWII just to see how much of this was fact or fiction. Apparently there is a whole other half of WWII that doesn’t have to do with Nazis and Pearl Harbor, but with the barbaric treatment of prisoners of multiple countries by the Japanese that I was totally ignorant of. On top of that, I learned from my mom that my great-great uncle happened to survive the Bataan Death March which was the deadliest transfer of prisoners by the Japanese during the war. So thank you author Don Kenefick, for not only writing an interesting story but educating me in the process!
Even though this story is very lovable and funny, it’s also very odd once you’ve finished the book and assess it overall. I don’t think the story’s a very happy one for the two main characters and even the last sentence that closes the book made me scratch my head and wonder why the author chose to end in that way. Some scenes have the characters go through pretty brutal events and I could never quite figure out if this was a comedy or a drama or something quirky in between. I generally felt depressed about the outcome of the characters’ lives but I guess all stories don’t always have a happy ending? The conclusion of the book also felt very convenient in how everything tied together and I wish the author could have decided to either give the characters a happy ending or stick to a grim closure. It felt like the ending was still trying to make up for all the sad things the characters endured, but it’s too little too late.
Even if the book doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy all the time, it will definitely make you feel something, probably a whole range of emotions. No matter what odd turns the story took, I never felt bored or disinterested. For the author’s writing ability alone, I’d read another one of his books. I still don’t know what to make of the story but I’m strangely glad I got the chance to read it.
*I received a free copy of this book for this review from the author.