Paul Rhoads is a writer, ready to return home. Beginning to miss those small things he took for granted in his youth, he is successful yet restless. Part of what drives him is Annie, his best friend. A new mother and yet recently divorced, she too is looking forward to seeing Paul again.
Her angst is real and while she certainly has strong feelings for Paul, her newly divorced husband, a philanderer, uses reverse psychology on Annie, accusing her of having her friend Paul’s baby. It is with just a bit of anger and trepidation that she begins her new life, one as the mother of a baby Boy named Max.
As Paul and Annie rekindle their friendship, it grows into love. Yet Paul is concerned: can he overcome the fact that Max is not his own child? Will he resent this and allow it to color their relationship? After much thought he determines that he can accept Max, and as a part of Annie, he will be able to have a strong relationship.
When Annie accepts his proposal he is ecstatic, his whole world is changing. As he comes to spend just a bit of time with Max, a small bud of love grows. Having never been around a child, the love deepens leaving no sign of his initial feeling. Taking Max with him on errands and spending quality time with him give Paul such pleasure. It only takes one instant for life to change, just one reckless mistake, for lives to be changed forever. When Annie dies in a car accident just two short weeks after their wedding, the loss is devastating.
Paul tries to do the right thing. He contacts Max’s real father Jason, who brushes him off. Paul believes Max should be with his biological father and actually goes to Jason’s place of work to confront him. He finds Jason on the eve of a new marriage, and absolutely no interest in a son he wants nothing to do with. What can Paul do, while he is the guardian, he and Annie were only married a few short weeks? Can he learn to be a father to another man’s son?
In Better Together, Raymond Rose has taken a tragedy and built a story of love. Paul is a young man, left in an untenable position. He initially feels overwhelmed with life, and begins to find himself in a bit of a depression. His mother though is there to help him through his new fatherhood in whatever way he feels necessary, and offers him advice when asked. However, she is there for guidance and allows him to grow into the position of fatherhood in his own way with much gentle encouragement.
Annie’s friends are also there along with an old friend of his from school, there to help him through both his grieving and his growth. When he finds himself with questions, he remembers his lessons as a writer. He can research; he can find the answers by finding the right questions. He wants so badly to be the best father and yet women who feel he should be looking for a Mother for Max often mimic his doubts. He understands the dilemma, but he is not ready, the grieving process is still painful.
Max is a joy and Rose does a wonderful job of bringing this delightful child into being. His characterizations are charming, and Max’s simple exclamations and antics bring him to life. He is precocious and precious, and even twists the wary reader around his finger. As Paul and Max build their life together and Max grows and develops into a wonderful and charismatic five year old, Paul’s life is finally beginning to come together. When Max’s father suddenly intrudes back into their life, Paul tries hard to be fair with Max’s time.
However, when Jason and his new wife kidnap Max, Paul is lost. As his father, Jason holds all the cards. What will he do, and how will he get his son back? Can he win this battle, and get his son back?
This is a wonderful heartwarming story about fatherhood. Rose does a great job of building his characters and making you care about them. If you enjoy people and their interactions, you will love this book.
It is interesting and well written with characters to care about. It would be a marvelous book for a reading club or a book club. It deals with many different stereotypes and characterizations, which would be interesting in a discussion group.