I don’t even know how to talk about this book. One of the things I loved best about it was the way Charlotte Stein used words to illuminate her characters, but I’m reading an advance reader copy so I’m not supposed to quote from it. I’m going to have to share a quote though because otherwise I’m just going to blather a bunch of dumb words at you.
She saw it happen, almost immediately. All in one big rush, like he couldn’t contain it. Her hands made contact, and that was it. Every muscle in his face just seemed to melt. The deep line between his eyebrows dissolved; his tightly pressed together lips parted. And though she could see him fighting to keep his eyes squeezed shut—like this was agony, like it was unbearable, like she was killing him with her fingertips—she could see them started to smooth out.
Alfie and Mabel are two delightful peas in a weirdo pod. They are each so used to being the biggest weirdo in the room that they can’t believe they have met someone who likes them for who they are. And yet some part of them relaxes around the other in a way they never do around others, whether Mabel is cleaning Alfie’s face after she pepper sprays him, or Alfie is braiding Mabel’s hair. Their banter is off the charts good. I cackled so many times. But what clenched this for me as a book I will return to are the deeply emotional moments that Stein gives them. Alfie’s face relaxing against his will the first time Mable touches him is such a beautiful human moment.
Alfie was inspired by Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent. I never watched the show (I stopped being able to process tv shows and movies when the pandemic started and I haven’t recovered that ability. I don’t know why, brains are weird). So I am aware of who Roy Kent is, but I have no attachment to the character.
I liked this so much I bought my own copy, I registered for a virtual author event and I bought a bunch of Charlotte Stein’s backlist.
Content Warnings: abusive alcoholic fathers, fat phobia from strangers.
I received this as an advance reader copy from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.