review copy; 320 pages
Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn is a highly recommended novel about a father and son overcoming their grief and rediscovering their love for each other.
Danny Malooley has become a single father to eleven-year-old Will after their wife/mother was tragically killed in a car crash a year earlier. Will hasn't uttered a word since the loss of his mother. Danny is trying to hold it all together and is behind on paying bills. He already knows he is in trouble when his landlord threatens to break his legs if he doesn't pay his back rent. When he then loses his construction job and can't find another job he knows his life is falling apart - until he saw some performers in the park and came up with a plan.
Danny buys a used panda costume and decides to become a dancing bear in the park, hoping for enough donations to make some money. Strangely and absurdly fate steps in and smiles at Danny. He meets Krystal, a pole-dancer, and begs for dancing lessons. While in costume he also saves Will from some bullies and Will opens up and talks to Danny without knowing it is his dad. Now Danny knows what is bothering Will, but Will doesn't know he is talking to his dad. And there is still the question of making enough money to pay the back rent.
This is a heart-warming, uplifting, feel-good, witty story about a
father and son reconnecting that may be just what people need right now.
It also is a testament to how friends can help and support each other
during rough times. Danny's Ukrainian friend Ivan is a bright spot in
the novel, as is the mouthy Krystal and Will's friend Mo. The plot
itself is simple, as is the writing, and you know everything is going to
turn out okay in the end because that is the kind of story Bear Necessity is written to be - refreshingly simple and delightful.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner.