Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

The Guncle
by Steven Rowley
Published May 25th 2021 by G.P. Putnam's Sons

From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor comes a warm and deeply funny novel about a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer.

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.

With the humor and heart we’ve come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.

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5 Stars

No one told me that I would spend the majority of this novel trying to keep tears from spilling over, so I am telling you now. You will need tissues and hugs and a Guncle and a Maisie and a Grantalope in your life after finishing Steven Rowley's latest. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, a magical novel about the power of loss and love. It's a story about being a human, where things are scary, hiding is easy, and how embracing it all brings the most joy.

"Would you like a martini?"

"I'm six."

"Is that a yes?"

The Guncle is, without a doubt, in my top ten reads for 2021. This book is everything, not to be cliche, but I really cannot put the right words in place to describe it and why it affected me so much. Uncle Patrick, Gup, Guncle, whatever you want to call him, may be an adult, but this is the story of his coming-of-age. It's the story of his niece and nephew facing an immeasurable loss with the companionship of their guncle, who speaks in quotes and tells long winded stories of a time they can't imagine. He has given up on living life for anyone but himself, he's more like a surly teenager than a famous actor people forgot, but during this summer of loss he discovers the beauty of allowing others in. While he too is lost in his grief, it is through facing it with the kids that he finds joy again.

"Your well is a mountain."

Rowley delivers both a comedy and realistic fiction in one. The Guncle is the kind of book you can recommend to anyone, it features just the right amount of laughs all while covering the serious topics that come with living. This book is beautiful, in all the right ways, and it will have a spot on my favorites shelf forever.


  1. I just heard about this book and you review is the second one that raves about it. I am definitely adding it to my TBR. Wonderful review Carlene.

    1. The read of the summer, for sure. Thank you so much, Carla!


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