3 out of 4 stars
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Daddy 3.0: A Comedy of Errors by Rob Armstrong is a humorous novel about a New York City transplant’s experiences as Mr. Mom to his three-year-old twin daughters. Nick’s wife Liz has a surgical fellowship with long hours. After losing his tech job, Nick becomes the primary caregiver to his children, at least for the foreseeable future. Add a group of stay-at-home moms to the mix and you have the recipe for a first-rate comedy.
The highlights here are the author’s easygoing, conversational writing style and intelligent wit. I felt like the main character was an old friend chatting with me over coffee about the recent changes in his life - the move from San Francisco and being a stay-at-home dad. I quickly became absorbed in his daily challenges of taking care of the twins with little to no help from his wife.
Nick is a likable, nuanced character who finds himself in the unlikely position of navigating the waters of full-time childcare. It doesn’t help that his daughters Claire and Maude are often unruly in public. The twins’ antics in restaurants are vividly written, as plates go flying and a turtle is removed from a restaurant’s aquarium. I did find it a little unrealistic that financially-strapped Nick continued to dine out with his daughters so frequently, particularly knowing how they acted.
Liz is dismissive toward her husband and doesn’t seem interested in taking responsibility for her daughters except for the easy tasks. If the girls are disruptive at a restaurant in her presence, Liz would scold Nick as if he is not doing his “job.” In fact, she finds fault with pretty much everything he does, as does her rude, sarcastic family when they visit for Thanksgiving. I absolutely could not stand Liz and would have liked her to be less one-dimensional. Also, the use of epithets for the stay-at-home moms is a little annoying – for example, Supermom, Good Heart, Lion Tamer, and Nifty-Fifty Wife. It feels a little contrived and gives these supporting characters an impersonal feel.
The pacing is slow with overly detailed descriptions. The author paints a clear picture of a man adjusting to a different lifestyle and keeping his children busy on a shoestring budget. However, there is an overabundance of play-by-play action and dialogue in many scenes. I became impatient for the plot to move forward, even when the vignettes were interesting.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The writing sparkles and there are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. There are a handful of technical errors (missing words, homophones, missing/extra apostrophes), although nothing that is too distracting. Fans of contemporary fiction would enjoy this story. I look forward to reading more books by this debut author.
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