Written by: Molly O’Hare
Reviewed by: Mary Warren
Spencer Hurley is a devoted single dad to his nine-year-old daughter, Belle. It had become clear that Belle’s old school was not a good fit. She was struggling with learning disabilities, and not only was she not getting the support she needed, but she was being bullied by the students and even some of the staff. So Spencer moved her to a new school that had one of the best teachers for his daughter. Ellie Ryan is a special education teacher. While she is very good with the students, the rest of her life is a hot mess at times because she has some learning disabilities herself, which are part of what makes her such a compassionate teacher.
A comedy of errors around the parent teacher conference where Ellie and Spencer meet leads to a rocky start to their relationship. But as it says on the cover, this is a romantic comedy, so we know how this rocky relationship is going to end, and it is a fun journey getting there. Watching these two interact with each other is great, but the cast of characters in this book is hilarious. Spencer, being a single dad, has a very close relationship with his own father because he had helped so much with Belle. He is witty and you never really know what is going to come out of his mouth. Ellie’s best friend and family bring that same wacky energy. This book is just full of outrageous and hilarious banter, and there doesn’t seem to be a serious straight man type of character to reign it all in, but it is definitely a good time.
The human stories were a delight to witness. We follow the developing relationship between Ellie and Spencer; passionate irritation gives way to straight up passion with heat to back it up. The arc of Ellie and Belle’s relationship as teacher/student and kid/woman-dating-her-dad was beautiful and endearing; they are able to connect on a deep level because they both have lived experiences with a learning disability and have been treated badly because of it. Ellie is able to support Belle and help her through some rough spots. It was really very sweet to read.
So overall this book is hilarious. The cast of characters definitely keeps you on your toes, and you never know what they are going to say. The spice is there in all the ways we want it. But this book really shines in the little family unit forming around Spence, Belle and Ellie; it is really something special.