Early Morning Riser

Knopf. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780525659341. $26.95. F
Jane is a gifted twentysomething secondgrade teacher, new to Boyne City, MI, in 2002, when she finds herself in need of a locksmith. Duncan, older, handsome, and easygoing, answers her call. And departs days later. Theirs is a passionate relationship with an overlay of unease on Jane’s part owing to Duncan’s matter-of-fact openness about having bedded nearly every woman in town. Still, Jane loves him; she is especially moved by his tender, respectful affection for his helper, sweet, intellectually challenged Jimmy, who lives with his mother. Also a constant in their lives is Duncan’s ex-wife, Aggie, and her peculiar second husband, Gary. A tragic accident leaves Jimmy alone, throwing all these intertwined dynamics into disarray. The ragtag, reconstituted family spends the next dozen years somehow making a go of it with great forbearance and more than a little contagious hilarity.
VERDICT Heiny brings back some familiar elements from 2017’s Standard Deviation, as laugh-out-loud scenes seamlessly flow into deep consideration of what it means to be a family and the power of accepting one another, eccentricities and all. This irresistible delight is a much-needed balm during these unnerving times.

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