Book Review: You Don’t Love This Man


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Synopsis:

This particular Saturday has gotten off to a really bad start. The bank branch office that Paul manages has been held up by a crook who presented a note to one of the tellers announcing the “robery.” Even though Paul was scheduled to have the day off, he is going to the branch to check on his staff and make sure that the matter is being properly handled.

Paul was supposed to be assisting his ex-wife, Sandra, with final preparations for their daughter, Miranda’s, wedding. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. No one has seen or heard from Miranda since the rehearsal dinner the prior evening, so Sandra has asked Paul to locate Miranda and confirm that the wedding is still on. Miranda is not answering anyone’s calls, it seems, including Paul’s.

As Paul’s day unfolds, he reveals the events in his life that have led up to this occasion. Paul has been working in the banking industry since shortly after graduating from college. More than twenty-five years ago, Paul met Grant when he came into the bank with Gina, a girl Paul had dated briefly during college. Paul and Sandra began double-dating with Grant and Gina. Paul and Grant remained friends over the years. Until, that is, Paul discovered that Grant and Miranda had secretly begun dating.

Now Grant is scheduled to marry Miranda, Paul’s only child, who is just twenty-three years old. But were is Miranda? Is the wedding still going to take place, as planned, or is she going to be a runaway bride?

And what is the strange connection between the robbery that occurred this morning and the one that occurred all those years ago on the very day that Grant and Paul met?

Review:

Paul narrates as the wedding day unfolds, interspersing details about the robbery and his search for Miranda with the story of his life and the events that have led him to this momentous Saturday.

Paul is an average guy, neither remarkably good-looking nor in particularly great physical shape, especially in comparison to Grant. He does not have a charismatic personality, although he is likable. He is not a flashy dresser and does not have a great deal of fashion sense — he gets tips on how to dress for success from Grant. In short, Paul is very much like your neighbor, your coworker … or, perhaps, you.

Paul did not set out to be a banker. Rather, he planned to work at the bank following college graduation until he decided exactly what he wanted to do with his life. And he only dated Gina for a couple of months during college, but credits her with teaching him about sex, noting that by the time he began dating Sandra, she reaped the benefits of Gina’s tutelage.

Paul was robbed at gunpoint, pistol-whipped, and suffered a concussion on the very day that Gina came into the bank and introduced Paul to Grant. In fact, he was still lost in thought about the two of them when the robber approached the counter and told Paul to give him the cash. When Paul refused, he was attacked. Gina and Grant became acquainted with Sandra when they all visited Paul in the hospital and the four of them double-dated until Grant broke up with Gina. Paul and Grant remained friends throughout the years. In fact, Grant is a member of Sandra’s amateur tennis team. Grant never married.

Just as Paul did not plan to have a career in banking, he did not plan to marry Sandra — at least not until she became pregnant with Miranda. But Paul loved them both, so he continued working at the bank and the three of them established a home. Sandra’s unhappiness led to their divorce when Miranda was fifteen years old. Now she has been remarried for four years, while Paul has remained single, living in a modest condominium. He has utilized all of his savings and maxed out his home equity line of credit in order to pay for Miranda’s wedding. Only to find himself doubtful now that the wedding will take place.

The security personnel at the bank immediately begin investigating the robbery, and expect Paul to cooperate. When he arrives at the branch and sees a surveillance photograph of the robber, Paul insists that he does not recognize the man. But that is not the case. Paul does recognize him as the same man who held him up at gunpoint so many years earlier, but was never caught. The bank’s security personnel have access to all of Paul’s financial records, of course. And his precarious financial condition raises questions. After all, he might have a motive to stage a robbery.

Meanwhile, Paul finds Miranda by calling her from the cell phone belonging to Catherine, the branch service manager who has reported to Paul for a decade. Once he tricks Miranda into answering her telephone, Miranda agrees to have lunch with him and, in fact, does meet him at the same restaurant where the rehearsal dinner took place the prior evening. But their meeting does not resolve the issue of whether Miranda is going to go through with marrying Grant, and the hunt for her begins anew when she gives Paul the slip.

As the hottest day of the year wears on, Paul considers his long-standing friendship with Grant and how he came to realize that Grant had begun dating Miranda.

Paul also reveals how he really feels about the bank by which he has been employed for so many years, expressing his outrage over the fact that the security squad sent to investigate the robbery is comprised of a young man and woman barely older than Miranda who have no regard for the fact that this is the day Paul is scheduled to give away his only daughter. Moreover, Paul resents that, as Catherine predicted, they learn about his financial status and begin treating him like a suspect. Is that really all that the past quarter-century of his life Paul has given to the bank is worth? The most emotionally moving and satisfying portions of the book involve Paul’s assessment of his career — his long-standing relationship with his employer, his understanding of the fact that he, like all of the bank’s employees, is completely expendable, and the fact that the mere $6,000 the robber made away with on this specific morning is just a pittance that won’t even be missed by the company. Paul has a sardonic, sometimes quite angry, but ultimately honest appreciation of his value to his employer that rings true, particularly in these economic times. Those portions of the narrative are refreshingly passionate.

This day-in-the-life-of story reveals a man who has made few real decisions about his own life. On the contrary, life has sort of happened to Paul. He has been a rather passive participant in his own journey, even to the point of deferring to Sandra when they disagreed about the right way to establish rules and boundaries for Miranda. Paul loves Miranda, but he is having a difficult time coping with the fact that she is not only grown and about to marry, she is marrying his long-time friend — a man his own age! Paul is at a loss to understand why Miranda is choosing not to speak with him about her feelings on this day, and feels understandably hurt and betrayed when he learns about the duplicitous and conspiratorial behavior of Sandra, Catherine, and even Gina, all of whom have been informed about important developments in Miranda’s life that she is withholding from him. Did he expect too much of her? Or, perhaps, not enough?

The transition from childhood to adulthood is often difficult for parents to acknowledge and accept. A forty-nine-year-old man whose daughter decides to marry his contemporary and long-time friend might understandably have a difficult time acclimating to the composition of his new family. DeWeese’s first novel is a thought-stirring, emotional roller coaster as Paul spends the day running between the bank, the venue for the wedding, the restaurant to meet with Miranda, the hotel where the reception will be held, etc. and, in the process, evaluates his role in the life of his daughter up to this point. Being the father of the bride can be emotionally exhausting, as Paul learns. It is only one day in his life, but it is a day that he will always remember … for many reasons, but especially because of his love for his daughter. And that is, he concludes, the only thing that really matters.

I read You Don’t Love This Man in conjunction with the 2011 Read ‘n’ Review and Outdo Yourself Challenges.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of You Don’t Love This Man free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




Comments

  1. says

    Wow, that’s certainly a lot to be going on in his head in the course of one day! I like how you say that life “happened to” Paul — I think many people feel the same way about themselves.

    Thanks as always for such a thorough review for the tour!

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