Booklist Reviews 2014 July #1
In Woodruff's charming debut, an affable Shakespeare professor's world is rocked by three unexpected events in quick succession. When Tom Putnam first meets Rose Callahan, who has just been hired at the university bookstore, he's instantly attracted to her. But aside from one brief affair 10 years earlier, Tom has been a devoted husband to fearful, damaged Marjory for more than two decades. Soon after the couple meets Rose, Marjory dies in a car crash, setting both her husband and her mother, Agnes, who has been helping Tom care for Marjory, free. But the biggest change comes when Tom receives a letter from his ex-lover, informing him that he has a 10-year-old son, Henry, who she's sending to live with him. When Henry arrives, he's only 6 and very clearly not Tom's biological child, but Tom quickly learns how little that matters in the face of the love he, Agnes, and Rose come to feel for the boy. A sweet exploration of the way unexpected twists in life can bring surprising rewards. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 April #1
Tom Putnam is a professor in a small Virginia college, a nowhere man marking time in a life filled with small classes and an increasingly confined home life. Sharing caregiving for his disturbed wife Marjory with Agnes, his feisty mother-in-law, leaves him little time for much else. Within the span of a few swift days, Tom's wife dies in a car crash and he receives a note from a former visiting poet and brief lover telling him of his son, whom she is sending to live with him. Ten-year-old Henry steps off the train with his birth certificate, a brief note, and his backpack. Amid funeral plans for Marjory, Tom and Agnes begin to make a home for Henry, with help from Rose Callahan who works at the college bookstore. Henry is a quiet, well-mannered boy with a rocky past who blossoms in the care of Tom, Agnes, and Rose. With many twists and turns and a cast of likable, very real characters, this is a thoughtful and enjoyable story. Readers will cheer for Tom and Rose who cautiously take a risk to choose happiness. What could have become a sappy tale in less capable hands is a warm, caring, and thoroughly entertaining debut that reads remarkably well. VERDICT NPR pro Woodroof is no novice writer, and her first novel will have readers eager for more. Essential for fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/14.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA[Page 85]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2014 March #2
Woodroof may be a debut novelist, but she's got a big audience already. As an NPR producer, she's already launched a ten-part NPR.org Monkey See story on the experience of publishing a book. English professor Tom Putnam lives with vulnerable, withdrawn wife Marjory, whose condition has been aggravated by the knowledge that Tom had a fling with a visiting poet years ago. Things start looking up when Marjory warms to Rose, newly hired at the campus bookstore—but then the poet returns to town with the ten-year-old son Tom never knew he had.[Page 95]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 April #1
Woodroof's charming debut deals with a bizarre paternity case set against the backdrop of a quirky college town. In the span of one week, English professor Tom Putnam's life is upended twice. His emotionally fragile wife is killed in a car accident, and he learns that he has a son, the product of a brief affair 10 years ago, who's on his way to visit Tom for a few months according to a letter from Henry's mother. When young Henry arrives, it's immediately apparent, considering his age and race, that Tom can't possibly be his biological father. Even more inexplicable is the fact that Henry's backpack contains one change of clothes and half a million dollars in cash. Still, Tom's name is listed on the birth certificate, and he's more than ready to take responsibility for the boy. With help from his hard-as-nails mother-in-law, Agnes, Tom begins to create a stable life for Henry and adjust to his new role as a single father. He even begins to fall in love with Rose Callahan, the new manager of the college bookstore, who's initially the only person Henry will open up to. But when possible explanations for Henry's mysterious origin crop up, Tom, Rose, and Henry face dangers they couldn't have imagined. Along with dark humor and a confident command of story, strong characters and absurdist twists add to the fun. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC