About a Boy meets Parenthood in this smart, big-hearted love story about a family for whom everything changed one night, a decade ago, and the young boy who unites them all.
Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are.
It is hard to say what this is book is primarily about. Is it about a 10-year old who is wise beyond his years, when ideally.. he shouldn’t be? Or is it about a woman who takes years to process the events of a fateful night where she loses both her brother and husband? Or is it about a parent who is carrying the weight of the events that lead to him losing his son? I think this book is primarily about processing grief and the time it takes to forgive people who are responsible for it. Sometimes, the time that it takes is enough to hold a lifetime in a limbo and alter it in a way that makes it so hard to undo.
Told through three PoVs, this story is about a single mother trying to raise her son the best she can. So, when she realizes her son is getting bullied in school for being obese, it is like someone suddenly held a mirror in front of her, where she sees her fragility. There is a thin line between fat-shaming and addressing it .. and this book handles it pretty well. My favorite moments were when Juliet (who has taken to stress-eating in the past few years) and Zac start making lifestyle changes together – by taking up running and incorporating dietary changes.
I went into this book expecting a “quest to find missing dad” by a ten-year old, but it was so much more. I think having a ten-year old as the main character was a great idea – the impact of watching such young kids be so heartless was quite something. So was the impact that Teagan, Zac’s best friend, made by helping Zac so selflessly and devoid of any kind of jealousy. I mean, her own dad did a runner just a year ago.
On the flipside, the fact that it was a “search party” headed by ten year olds meant that a lot of the events unfolded way too .. plainly. It didn’t help that the big reveal was quite easy to guess. After so much of the book dwelling on how Juliet’s family found it difficult to forgive some events, the ending could have been more .. drawn out. I thought the writing didn’t hit all the right spots in terms of emotional payoffs.
Nevertheless, it was a great debut, and wonderful addition to middle-grade fiction about family, friendship and parenthood.