Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Review: "This Was Not the Plan" by Cristina Alger

When Charlie Goldwyn's beloved wife Mira, the free spirit to his workaholic lawyer, dies unexpectedly and leaves him with a young son, he does the only thing he can think of—buries his grief in work. He has a few years to make partner, so he gives his all, and it doesn't matter that he has no work/life balance—it'll all pay off when Caleb is older and they have the money for everything he'll want.

Charlie is lucky that his twin sister Zadie is willing to give up her own life in order raise his son, and while he means to be there for outings and parties, work always seems to get in the way.

Two years after Mira's death, Caleb is a sunny five-year-old obsessed with natural disasters, who has a penchant for tiaras, brightly colored clothes, tutus, and sparkles. And thanks to some ill-advised comments made during a firm cocktail party, Charlie is now unemployed, trying to make sense of his future, his son, and his guilt over Mira's death. His time with Caleb teaches him what a great kid his son is, despite his being barely there, and how much he embodies all of the things everyone loved about Mira.

Is he capable of being a good father, especially when his relationship with his own father barely exists? Can he get his old job back, or at least find a better one? Is financially providing for your child the most important part of parenthood? Will he ever be able to move on with his own life, and should he try? This Was Not the Plan explores all of Charlie's questions, as it shifts from the start of his relationship with Mira to the present day.

This book was so enjoyable, so sweet (not in a bad way), and even if it wasn't really surprising, I was hooked from start to finish. Charlie isn't an entirely sympathetic character, and you wonder if he'll ever be able to completely overcome the traits that made him a great lawyer but not always a great husband, brother, or son. But I really was enamored of the way his relationship with Caleb changed, and I particularly liked the way Cristina Alger treated Caleb's five-year-old flamboyance with respect.

A book doesn't always have to dazzle me or cripple me emotionally to make me enjoy it. This Was Not the Plan is a well-written, engaging, and extremely likable story about family, friendship, love, and finding hope again. It may not break new ground but it's definitely a good read.

NetGalley and Touchstone provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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