Thursday, November 17, 2011
As someone who doesn't always consider herself the "typical" stay-at-home mom, I thought I might be entertained by the new novel called FATHERMUCKER by Greg Olear. FATHERMUCKER tells a day-in-the-life of Josh, a stay-at-home dad of two young children -- Roland who is four and Maude who is three. He deals with the typical parental responsibilities and even handles the playdates with the other mommies; however, his life is turned upside-down when one of the moms tells him that his wife is having an affair.
I enjoyed FATHERMUCKER and thought it was a pretty funny book. At times, I thought it was uncanny how much I had in common with Josh, primarily with how it felt to be a stay-at-home mom to preschoolers (it isn't always a cakewalk!) And I loved that there is at least one other person out there (albeit a fictional one) who has counted down the hours until the children's bedtime. If nothing else, FATHERMUCKER made me feel like less of a bad parent.
Since my kids are long past their preschool years, I found much of FATHERMUCKER to be absolutely hilarious! I'm not sure that I would have the exact same reaction had I read this book when I was caught up in the day-to-day struggles of being a parent to a preschooler. I can now laugh at the temper tantrums, the poopie incidents, the disastrous playdates, the playground gossip, and the competitive moms; but at the time, I remember feeling like an inept parent. I appreciated that FATHERMUCKER allowed me to see that many of my feelings were normal (or at least somewhat normal.)
However, because Josh was a stay-at-home dad, his thoughts and feelings did sometimes differ from mine -- it's that whole "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" thing. I loved getting some insight into a man's view of this very difficult job. I wasn't surprised by how many feelings Josh and I shared about being a parent and loving our children, but I was a little surprised to get inside a man's mind especially when it came to his thoughts about the other moms.
And Josh was definitely a unique character -- one that will remain in my thoughts for some time. While I couldn't always relate to him, I did respect his parenting and how much he loved his family. I also enjoyed learning about his insecurities -- both as a parent and a husband. And I thought his fantasy world (i.e. the scenes/scripts he wrote about his wife and other men) were both hilarious, and at the same time, touching.
There were many very funny scenes in FATHERMUCKER, but one of my absolute favorite parts of the novel was not a humorous one. It was when Josh was talking about his son Roland's autism. It occurred at the beginning of Part 2 of the book, and was titled Asberger's: A Chronology. The author juxtaposed snippets about the history of autism with Roland's actual behavior. I couldn't help but be affected by the information (or lack thereof) about autism, and it really caused me think about all of the families out there who have to handle these challenges on a daily basis.
Another good thing about FATHERMUCKER was Mr. Olear's writing -- it was very good. He has a fabulous sense of humor and a unique ability to capture the thoughts and feelings of stay-at-home parents. I thoroughly enjoyed his insights into parenting, but I also thought his views on marriage and love were pretty perceptive (although I admit that sometimes it seemed like he was trying to hard to be smart and witty.) In many ways, I thought FATHERMUCKER was a microcosm about life in general. It covered both the good and bad of life as well as the highs and lows, and the novel did it with covering just a single day in the life of a man. Pretty impressive!
Parents, both mothers and fathers alike, will relate to much of FATHERMUCKER, and that's why I think it would make for an interesting book club pick. There is a reading guide which delves into some of the topics I've already mentioned in my review. Some of the other themes that you might want to explore include parenting, love, marriage, infidelity, trust, friendship, self-esteem issues, masculinity, and autism. In addition, there are quite a few literary devices used in the novel which warrant some discussion including the choice of title, the comparison of parenting to war, the use of music references, and the comparison of Josh and his wife's relationship to that of Josh Duhamel and Fergie.
FATHERMUCKER is a very entertaining look at life and especially parenting. I recommend it to anyone who is a mother or a father or anyone who enjoys a books about family life!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.