Tammy is a control freak, who likes to plan every detail of her life with the utmost precision. Alvin is a free spirit who tends to just go with the flow and see where life takes him. An unlikely couple, yet love blossoms between them quite quickly.
However, when the novel begins we learn that they have already broken up nearly two years previous. Prior to their separation, they had devised a pre-parental plan, of activities designed to take them out of their comfort zones before they settled down to have kids. Now, Alvin is back and he proposes that they complete each activity on their list in a bid to see if they can rekindle what they had and give their love a second chance.
As a parent myself, the whole concept of a pre-parental plan intrigued me. Life changes immeasurably once you have children, and having a list of things you want to do as a couple while you are still relatively responsibility free is, in short, genius, and a great premise for a novel. The list itself is quite creative and well thought out.
I thought the author did an exemplary job of dealing with the serious issues faced by the couple in their relationship that ultimately led to their separation the first time around. The flashback chapters explaining their problems were written with just the right amount of poignancy, while still keeping the overall tone of the novel upbeat and humorous.
As with Benton's previous novel, I adored the secondary characters, which really gave the story depth and brought it to life. Tammy's family, particularly her two close cousins, are excellently described, while Alvin's mother Claire's eccentricity was wittily portrayed. Fleeting meetings with other characters such as Angie and Brett, and in the latter half of the book, Randy, were laugh out loud material.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which was a follow up to the author's debut novel Looking for Leon. While the storyline of this book is somewhat more serious than Leon, Benton's witty, humorous style of writing is still evident, with well thought out and relatable main characters and a supporting cast of funny, lovable minor characters. With surprising plot twists throughout, I was hooked from page one, and will look forward to reading more from Shirley in the future.