Primary Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction
Published: 25 Jun 2019 by Park Row Books
Page count: 368
My Format: Electronic ARC via NetGalley
Cover: Love the red!
Ending: Heart wrenching and perfect
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: https://amzn.to/2XARCgZ
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis from Goodreads
Joel lives in a nursing home, and he’s not one bit happy about it. He hates being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take his pills. He’s fed up with life and begins to plan a way out when his new roommate, a retired soap opera actor named Frank, moves in and turns the nursing-home community upside down.
Though the two men couldn’t be more opposite, a fast friendship is formed when Frank is the only one who listens to and stands up for Joel. When he tells Frank about his burgeoning plan, they embark together on a mission to find the perfect escape, and along the way will discover that it’s never too late for new beginnings.
Filled with colorful characters, sparkling humor and deep emotion, The Great Unexpected is the story of friendship, finding oneself later in life and experiencing newfound joy in the most unexpected places.
I lost a lot of sleep last night because I could not stop reading this book. Here are my pros and cons:
- The first chapter was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Very impactful and a perfect set up to the rest of the story.
- The title of this book is perfect on several levels. Not only does it apply to the story itself, but I think it applies to the reader as well. This book wasn’t at all what I expected and it surprised me in ways I didn’t anticipate.
- Any time a book makes me cry it is an automatic 5 stars for me. Seriously. When an author can create such a strong emotional connection to the characters that I actually cry… well, bravo! And this book made me cry twice! (Note: I am NOT an emotional person. It takes a lot to make me cry.)
- The characters were awesome. First you have Joel, fed up with life and unable or unwilling to see the positive in anything anymore. Then there is Frank… a man who exudes joy and happiness and seems to always seek the silver lining in everything. Interestingly, both men have their issues and vulnerabilities and each man hides their pain from others in their own way – Joel by being cantankerous and downright mean, and Frank by constantly performing to hide the pain. I absolutely fell in love with each character and empathized so much with each of their situations.
- While the Joel and Frank relationship was the foundation of the story, I think the relationship between Joel and his daughter Eva was the most emotional for me. What a realistic depiction of dysfunction and non-communication and how it can impact lives! Joel was part of a generation where the husbands were the earners and the wives were the ones that dealt with the emotions. He lived by this principle and his relationship with his daughter was negatively impacted because of it. When Joel and his daughter’s relationship hit the boiling point I was crying all over the place! So well written, emotional, and devastating. It was superb writing.
- I enjoyed Joel and Frank’s “escapes” from the nursing home more than I expected. I was really rooting for them to have the time of their lives.
- It was great to read a book like this about men. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I personally haven’t read many books that showcased the emotions and vulnerabilities of men like this one did. Most books I read of this nature have a female as the focus of the story and it was refreshing to read a solid and emotional story about men.
- The ending was absolutely heart wrenching, powerful, and hopeful.
This book is phenomenal. It is simply a must read. If nothing else, you should read this book to understand that just because people get old, it doesn’t mean they don’t still want to have a say in and some control over their lives. I really felt sorry for Joel. While he didn’t express himself well, he had every right to his feelings of frustration for being treated like a child! Older people should be treated with respect and love, not as burdens. On the flip side, Joel needed to learn that just because people were around to help him in the retirement home, it didn’t necessarily mean they always thought he was incapable of taking care of himself. I can’t imagine the balance required to maintain autonomy in a retirement home facility while essentially having your entire life planned and monitored by others. God bless the folks who work in these types of facilities and know how to find that balance and treat our older generation with the respect and care they deserve.
Thank you NetGalley and Park Row Books for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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