In Dan Mooney’s novel The Great Unexpected, Joel and Frank are nursing home roommates and, despite huge differences in their personalities, quickly become the dearest of friends—and partners in crime!
Through Joel’s experiences and feelings, we are reminded of how we as a society tend to treat the elderly. We might mean well, yes, but forgetting to include them in important decisions that directly affect them, stripping their sense of agency can seriously impact a person’s mental health. I liked how Mooney had readers sympathizing with Joel’s frustrations, and at the same time, understanding why his family, friends, and the nursing home staff were so worried about him.
Joel and Frank both grew up in a time when boys were taught to be more emotionally reserved, to be “manly” (and straight). Their unlikely friendship helps each man recognize the walls they’ve built up, see how their childhoods and society have shaped them, and helps them explore their feelings about that now, in their senior years. Joel and Frank are powerful reminders that it’s never too late to try to dismantle those walls in order to create more fulfilling lives for ourselves. This book gently tells us that life needs to be more than just going through the motions, doing what we’re “supposed” to do.
Dan Mooney explores some very serious themes through lovable characters and sense of humor, making this a delightful read. (You might want to have tissues handy, too.)
Content warnings: Although these themes are treated gently, I feel readers should have a heads up for suicidal ideation throughout the novel, as well as homophobia and some internalized homophobia.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and to Park Row Books for the opportunity to read and review this book. Check out what other readers have to say about The Great Unexpected by visiting other stops on the tour.
Giveaway: Win a copy of THE GREAT UNEXPECTED
Open to US readers only, contest runs through Tuesday, June 25, 2019 (ends at 11:59 p.m. Central). Enter to win a copy below!