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This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Little Things by Jay Northcote
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Pages: 214 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
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There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter, Evie, is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.
Then one cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel’s life is turned upside down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.
Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?
Yes, I am giving this five stars. For me to read a tough subject matter, the author needs to be able to pull me through it with enough trust that it will all be okay. This wasn’t an easy read, there are a few very tough moments where I had to stop reading because I was not only crying but I was simply too emotional to read another word, and yet I continued. For that alone, for an author to pull me back into a story with such intense emotions deserves the five stars and then some.
The Little Things is different than what you would expect from Northcote, though it’s one of her earliest novels. Absent is the adorable fluff or lack of angst as this book hits pretty hard and deep.
We meet Joel as he is picking up his three year old daughter, Evie. We know immediately that Joel is head over heels for his daughter and as they walk home, we begin to learn how Joel, a out gay man, has a daughter.
I loved getting the short back story of Joel and Claire. How they were best friends in college, how they experimented and how the ultimately would up being co-parents to Evie. They are both so young when we meet them and yet they have taken on the challenge of parenting with respect and maturity for their ages. I liked that Joel has a boyfriend, Dan, though I never quite warmed up to Dan maybe because he is younger than Joel at only 19 yrs. so I guess I expected Joel to have someone more on his level of maturity and not someone who picked up other men when out clubbing though it seems their relationship was not exactly exclusive. I mean he did what he could and he was decent and seemed to like Joel enough and though I did get emotional at their last goodbye… I don’t know. I guess I never got invested in Dan because I was waiting for Liam.
He realized he just didn’t care anymore, not in the way he’d cared about the guys that Dan had fooled around with before. Something had shifted for Joel, and he suddenly saw with stark clarity that he and Dan had no future together.
We know from the blurb that something happens to take Joel from a co-parent to a full time dad and while I was spoiled by a review about this and when it would happen, I am thankful it didn’t lessen the blow because that scene, as hard as it was to read and as much as I cried, needs to be felt. I felt it and I wept for all involved and dreaded the next step Joel would have to take.
I’ll spoiler tag the incident, though some may not feel it’s needed, I do.
View Spoiler »Northcote dealt with this, the death of a parent, the death of Claire – Evie’s mother – in the most realistic way. Talking to a child about the death of a parent is not an easy task and not all children are tiny geniuses that would spout off a statement of epic understanding. Kids are kids and at three, Evie doesn’t have the cognitive ability to process the loss of her mother and her listening to her dad, associating the death with a pet is what a run of the mill kid would do and then yeah, want to go watch The Wonder Pets. We want our children to understand and grieve for them that they don’t really get it when it happens. So bravo to Nortchote for dealing with a sensitive subject with respect, with realism and a remedy that fit the situation. « Hide Spoiler
I love the way Liam first meets Joel. Though we didn’t get his name I was holding out hope HE would turn into Liam and I was so happy when it happened. Joel is at a huge turning point in his life, even bigger than when he found out Evie was coming along and he needs the type of man he can lean on, who he can count on and who he can just be Joel – a man and a father – with.
But I guess that’s what I’d really like—to find a person I can have something serious with, something that could last.
The romance between Liam and Joel was beautiful. I loved that they took their time but that everything felt so right, felt as if they’d known one another for much longer that they let their feelings lead the way. That isn’t to say that Joel ever lost sight of his daughter. Being the non-bio mom to a son, myself, I know what it’s like to begin a relationship with someone who has a child about the same age as Evie. It’s not easy because you want that attention from the person you’re with but you also have to get that their child comes first. With Liam, he was simply the most patient man ever and sure, it could have to do with his job but he amazed me time and time again with… well, The Little Things he would do for both Joel and Evie.
The Little Things really is a character driven romance about a man who was just getting the hang of his life to have it all change with a clip of a curb. It’s a romance about needing to find the person you can be yourself with but still feel that desire to rip their clothes off and mount them like a bull… or at least a tall, dark and curly haired pediatric nurse.
Let me just add… this new cover is leaps and bounds above the original. This cover would have had me reading the book long before now and yeah, I admit I kinda judged a book BY the cover but I’m okay with that. I think all things need to be read at the right time and this was the right time for me. The cover though, that is SO Joel with his young maturity mixed with his vulnerability that cries out READ ME and really, I hope those of you who haven’t, will soon.