This Was Not the Plan

Charlie Goldwyn, a widowed litigation attorney, narrates Christina Alger's novel This Was Not the Plan. Unable to cope since the death of his wife, Charlie buries himself in work. He leaves the raising of his five-year-old son, Caleb, to his "laid-back hippie of a sister," Zadie, who is a steadying force for her brother and quirky Caleb, who likes to dress in girls' clothing.

"There are things in life that are more important than work," one of the bosses tells Charlie, who is up for partner at his high-powered Manhattan law firm. Overworked and overtired, Charlie is roped into attending an office cocktail party, where he drinks too much and goes off on a loose-tongued tirade about his job and the back-breaking sacrifices he's made for the firm--only to have the incident captured on video by a competitive coworker. The video goes viral, and Charlie is fired. Suddenly he's forced to navigate the world as a stay-at-home-dad and try to reconnect with his son, while fighting to get his job back. But is returning to the firm what's best for Charlie--and for Caleb?

As Charlie plots his next move, he struggles with grief and the new realities of his life, including his own parental and social inadequacies and the strained relationship he's endured with his own father. Alger (The Darlings) piles problems on her sympathetic protagonist in a lively, entertaining way, while presenting a cast of appealing characters faced with the stresses and challenges of contemporary parenting. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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