Thank You to Gallery Books for providing me with an advanced copy of Taylor Larsen's novel, Stranger, Father, Beloved, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Michael is a married university professor with mental health issues. He notices his wife, Nancy, speaking with a stranger at a party, and becomes convinced that she has married the wrong man. Michael decides to befriend the stranger, and hatches a plan to allow the stranger to replace his role as husband to Nancy and father to his children, Ryan and Max.
LIKE - Stranger, Father, Beloved is off-beat and bizarre in the best possible sense. Michael, with his mental issues and unusual sense of both self and the world around him, is a compelling main character. I had no idea where the story was heading or what Michael might do, and this kept me on edge. Tension runs high in Larsen's story. The concept is intriguing. I've read plenty of stories of characters undergoing a midlife crisis, but none where the character tries to remove themselves from their own lives by finding a replacement. It's unsettling.
DISLIKE- I'm not sure that this counts as a dislike, but I was drawn to Stranger, Father, Beloved, because of the comparisons to my favorite author, Tom Perrotta. I did not find that Stranger, Father, Beloved was similar to Perrotta's Little Children. Perrotta has a knack for finding uncomfortable humor in dark moments, where Larsen's story lacked this element. I was enthralled with Larsen's story, but I don't think that the comparison rang true.
RECOMMEND- Yes. Stranger, Father, Beloved was an unusual and uncomfortable journey that I won't soon forget. If you're looking to be ripped from your comfort zone, look no further than Larsen.