Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

I love the detail and characters in Maeve Binchy’s books.  This one, as are most of her books, is set in Ireland.  Noel lives in a small town with his parents, so that he is free to drink, sleep around, and just be a lazy almost-30 year old.  He’s shocked when an old girlfriend asks him to meet her at the hospital.  Turns out, she has terminal cancer, and is pregnant with his child.  About this time, a cousin of his mother, Emily,  comes to visit.  Emily single-handedly changes everyone’s lives, but most especially, Noel’s.  A social worker, Moira, is less than pleased with Noel’s decision to become a father to his daughter, Frankie.  She’s even less thrilled when a patchwork of caregivers is arranged to facilitate Frankie’s care.  She doesn’t believe that Noel has stopped drinking, that he’s serious about his new college class, or that he’ll be a suitable parent.  Noel lives in constant fear that he’ll mess up and his daughter will be taken away.  It’s hard to tell who is central to this little community:  Emily, Frankie, or Noel.  The caregivers begin connecting with each other, and lives–and deaths–are intertwined.  Despite the seriousness of the problems, this is a light-hearted book that pulls the reader right into the community.  And it’s thoughtful, too…what really defines a family?  What do I really want to do with my life next?  What is the “right” way to raise a child?  and more…



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