I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I suppose if I was a different sort of person I would suppress my desire to make mean spirited, and snarky comments. I suppose that my first instinct would be to make encouraging, supportive, and helpful comments in my review instead. Let's be honest though, I'm not that sort of person, and I don't write those kind of reviews.
This book didn't work for me at all, on any level. One of my biggest problems was the lack of setting. I didn't know where this book took place, and it made me feel unmoored and restless. The banking details felt wrong to me, working in a bank I know that a joint account absolutely can be closed by one of the people on the account not both. I'm not sure if that's just this state, or others, but it was one of those little things that bothered me. The main character also talks about his father building boats, and how much he hates boats, but he never says what kind of boats. Rowboats? Canoes? Sail boats? Yacht? Tugboats? I live in coastal Maine, boats is unhelpfully vague, and threw me out of the story a bit. The writing style felt stilted, and awkward. It never drew me into the characters or their world at all. For me the dialogue was the worst part, and it left me feeling like I was reading some sort of self help, inspirational, Nicolas Sparks-y sort of book. Or how I imagine Nicholas Sparks would read.
The characters felt just as wooden as the dialogue. The main character came across as weak, and whiny, and never really grew in my mind. It seems like someone always has to step in to help him, or save him, and it did not endear him to me at all. Also can I end by saying how much it irritated me that the main character made such a big deal about his son saying stupid, and then made a throw away comment that a student thinking he was crazy, and his love interest saying he was OCD because he was more neat and clean than the love interest. For a character who doesn't approve of snark, and meanness it seems pretty hypocritical. Just saying. There was more than a touch of the special snowflake to him. I don't care how many teenage girls love your book, you walk into a high school classroom chances are you are not going to be greeted with that much warm enthusiasm. Also I'm pretty sure that your best friend the high school Principal can not just hire you, especially if you have NO qualifications, pretty much on the spot to be the guidance councilor. I'm not an expert, but I don't think that's how that works. The love interest was dull, and insipid, and seemed to be there mostly to tell the mc how great he was. The child annoyed me to no end. Too wise, too perceptive at one moment than extra childish the next. The mc didn't ever seem to do all that much parenting, and the child mostly was shown when needed by the plot. The secondary cast was just as bad if not worse, and didn't add much to the story at all.
The plot was dull, and it felt like I was dragging myself through much of this book. Problems seemed too easily resolved, and characters would make sudden changes with no real motivation or explanation. The main character's father was the worst, going from raging homophobe in one little vignette to accepting in the next. That was my last problem. The story moved along until close to the end when suddenly we have these short little vignettes with time skips, and events. I was already feeling distanced, and distracted, and this sort of broken up ending didn't help matters any. It was the final nail in the coffin of this book for me really.
In the end I could see where the author wanted to go with this book, and what they wanted to accomplish, but it didn't work for me. It felt too cheesy, to plastic, to processed to be real to me. Too much of a think happy thoughts kind of thing, and not enough about making real changes.