Book Review

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Genre | Contemporary Fiction
Page #s | 336
Publishing Date | May 2021

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.

Goodreads

I haven’t read many adult queer contemporary fiction novels that are easy, breezy, summer reads, but I sure want to read more after The Guncle! This book was an absolute delight as author Stephen Rowley captures both children and gay culture perfectly.

Patrick is a single gay man who has become increasingly isolated after losing his partner in a tragic car accident many years before. When his best friend and sister-in-law dies of cancer, he finds himself skeptically in charge of his niece and nephew. All three learn how to process grief and lean on the love of family in the wake of tragedy. Cue cute kids, Christmas in summer, and heartwarming feelings!

Rowley captures kid voices very accurately, to the point that I was laughing out loud at some of the things they said. But this is not a defanged sappy book about kids – it’s still very much a queer book, with Patrick falling in love again and many meaningful chats with his neighbours (a polyamorous gay throuple collectively named JED).

I enjoyed this book so much. It’s the perfect read poolside, or honestly, curled up in a cozy blanket if you somehow stumble across this review in the winter. A lovely read for any time of year!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

This is a book for anyone who wants a light-hearted summer read with a queer protagonist!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Come chat books with us on Roar Cat Reads’ discord.

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