In The Practical Navigator by Stephen Metcalfe, we follow the life of Michael Hodge, a contractor in Southern California. He is currently single and raising his son, a wonderful child challenged with autism. Michael shares a special bond with Jamie; they have each other as they work on the kinks of moving forward. When his estranged wife comes back on the scene, he isn’t sure what she is looking for. Her motives seem mysterious. Does she want to get back together? Or is she trying to get back into Jamie’s life to be the mother he remembers.
Michael has to put his own life on hold as he struggles to find the best answer. Can he let her back into their lives for a second chance or will this just open up his son’s life to one more form of hurt?
For Michael, the timing is not the greatest. He has just met a woman and is on the verge of beginning a relationship that he thought might be leading him back to love. But his love for his son is all prevailing and he puts his own feelings on hold to try and understand how he feels about the woman who abandoned them years earlier. Jaime is open to receiving her and her love one more time. Is this a situation that will be the best, or just another hurdle in their lives?
This is a strong, emotional look at the relationship between a father and his son. It delves deep into the meaning of family and what love is really all about. Can Michael do what is necessary and right for his son, and still find a life that is best for them both?
Metcalfe takes us to a place that is sometimes uncomfortable. But he does is with grace and panache. The lives of those on the autisim spectrum are difficult for the family as well as the child. Yet he shows us the love and respect that is required to keep them safe. The relationships he develops between his characters will have you cheering, and at times overwhelmed. But the love feels so real and the story is enchanting.
If you enjoy romance and love, heartfelt stories that have meaning and stories of inner courage, you will want this work for your library. Metcalfe’s debut adult work is certainly inspiring.
This would be a wonderful work for a reading or discussion group.