The Dead Father's Guide to Sex and Marriage
John Scott Shepherd
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Buy *The Dead Father's Guide to Sex and Marriage* online

The Dead Father's Guide to Sex and Marriage

John Scott Shepherd
Downtown Press
320 pages
July 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Joe Way has had a troubling week. Son of Cleveland's beloved mayor, Joseph Way, Joe Junior's life to this point has been close to perfect. The best schools, a prestigious job as an assistant district attorney, a beautiful fiancée, and loads of charm have all smoothly paved the way toward a future in Congress and maybe even the presidency. But everything changes when, in the course of a single day, Joe discovers that his father has been conducting a decades-long affair, worrisome accusations come up in the mayor's race, and Joseph Way, Senior, drops dead of a heart attack on the golf course.

Needless to say, Joe and the rest of his family come a bit unraveled. While Joe is trying to figure out where his father fits into the death of a young Hispanic woman, who should show up in the kitchen but Joseph. He tells Joe that he needs Joe's forgiveness so he doesn't have to go "down there." This encounter with his father's ghost sends Joe into a week of investigation and a great deal of self-discovery. While trying to find out the truth about his father, Joe manages to learn the truth about himself.

I suppose that The Dead Father's Guide to Sex and Marriage could be categorized as "lad lit" (the male equivalent of chick lit.) Joe is an endearing character. One might be tempted to dislike him in the beginning because he seems to have it all together and his life appears perfect. Yet Joe is vulnerable and isn't afraid to look closely at himself after his father's death. He realizes he's still holding onto the relationship he had in college with "bad girl" Mara Pinkett. Joe's introspection allows him to examine what his true feelings are and to take the appropriate action--which wasn't at all what I expected.

The Dead Father's Guide to Sex and Marriage is convoluted at times, which draws the reader out of the story. It switches from Joe's first-person account abruptly to a third-person narrative in a way that doesn't feel very natural. The addition of humor and a fast-moving, ever-changing plot ultimately makes the book readable and enjoyable. This, combined with some fun characters, produces a delightful way to spend reading time.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Melissa Parcel, 2004

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