KEEPER AND KID is an exceptionally poignant coming-of-age story with a twist or two depending on the reader’s personal experiences and opinion. One twist is that the main character is a male who we witness “come of age” and the other is that this touching story is written by a male. Edward Hardy gives the reader a story that everyone will treasure and characters they will care about.
James Keeper is a man who is not exactly dependable and can scarcely take care of himself, but suddenly finds a great responsibility thrust upon him. At 36 years old, Keeper has divorced and gone on to build a rather carefree life in which he works with his best friend in an antique store, has a new love interest named Leah, and maybe his most crucial obligation each week is hosting the Sunday night card game with his friends. One phone call from his former mother-in-law changes James Keeper’s whole world.
Keeper learns that his ex-wife Cynthia is very ill and he goes to see her in the hospital. Days later, he suddenly finds himself no longer a carefree bachelor but now in the role of responsible father of three-year-old Leo, the son that James never knew was his or even existed! Coping with fatherhood is much more than Keeper had even imagined. The reader will soon see that it isn’t just Leo who grows up in this story. Time out may be something for Leo, but certainly there is no time ‘off’ when you are the dad. Leo is demanding 24/7 and after a while, Leah even has had enough and leaves James to fend for himself with precocious Leo who is now legally Jimmy Keeper’s son and responsibility.
Leo, who looks like his dad, has his certain childish quirks. James learns that beside Leo being a three year old who thinks he is really a bear, eats only round foods, and doesn’t like to bathe, he is also displaying the depth of losing his mother in the way a child often will, through behavior. Dealing with the loss of his mother, Leo begins to soil his pants, hide things from others, and just become a bit bratty to punish other people as his way of dealing with the devastation he feels at losing his mom.
Leo forces Keeper to grow up and learn more about himself and those he cares for. James deals with Leo’s fear of cats, amazing vocabulary, desire to stay up really late while still getting up very early, and in doing so, becomes Leo’s father and a better man. The characters in the story are appealing and interesting so that one wants to root for them all. This is a heart felt story that can only make you smile as you read it. The love that comes from the pages of this book is palpable and is backed by the humor and pathos of the characters and thus makes this a must read for anyone who loves a character study, coming-of-age, and family story.