“Journalist Hafner’s marvelous fiction debut centers on a socially awkward man’s neuroses about fatherhood. While working as the chief technology officer at a startup in Philadelphia, Ethan meets Barb, a University of Pennsylvania grad student, and the two start dating. They soon marry, though Ethan suspects he’s scored out of his league. Having lost his parents at an early age, he also fears becoming a father, but Barb changes his mind, only for them to discover after a year of trying to conceive that Ethan is sterile. They decide to foster two young boys, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hits and Ethan develops an overbearing attachment to them, his relationship with Barb disintegrates. She leaves him and he takes the boys on a bike trip to Italy, where a jaw-dropping twist ensues. Starting out as a lighthearted romance before taking an unsettling turn, this upsets expectations in the best way. The heartbreaking late reveal will take a second reading to fully sink in and pushes the troubled marriage genre to dizzying extremes. It’s a remarkable outing, and readers will look forward to seeing what Hafner does next.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Tender and emotionally intelligent…An audacious feat of narrative bravado.”
– Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
This is a treat-yourself read, the tale of an endearing human on a hilariously misguided quest for love and connection, in the delight-filled tradition of Anne Tyler. But Hafner bakes a surprise into the center of her confection — a glorious, mind-blowing twist that propels the story to unexpected heights and depths. With exquisite compassion and humor, this novel leaves its readers deeply nourished, heart, mind, and soul.
— Debra Jo Immergut, Author of You Again