A debut book chronicles the improvement of a fictional dad from the 1.0 to 3.0 versions.
When the San Francisco–based web startup company that Nick Owen works for goes belly up at the same time his wife accepts an orthopedic residency in New York City, he decides to stay at home with their 3-year-old twin daughters, at least until he can land a new job. Unfortunately, finding a position that actually pays well proves to be more problematic than he anticipated. While at first he feels overwhelmed by his full-time paternal responsibilities and alienated from his fellow stay-at-home parents (exclusively moms), Nick gradually finds his niche. Rather than being cowed by Supermom, the doyenne of the Hospital Family Association, he challenges her supremacy. Supermom, whose name is never revealed, transitions from disapproval toward Nick to outright antipathy; however, some of her cadre of friends—the cleverly nicknamed Good Heart (for her kindness) and Nifty-Fifty Wife (not explained)—come to appreciate his unique approach to parenting. If his wife, Liz, vacillates among hostility, resentment, and occasional approval, her parents are unrelentingly critical of Nick. His friendships with chef Wolfie, a friend since his undergraduate days at Berkeley, and new friend, Kelly, a gorgeous recent divorcée, buoy his spirits immeasurably. Kelly, since her divorce, feels as equally isolated from her friends as Nick does from the Hospital Family moms; however, as their friendship strays into more emotional territory, it adds additional tension to his already strained marriage. In his hilarious book, Armstrong, a Wharton School graduate–turned–stay-at-home dad, makes Nick a tremendously appealing, amusing, self-deprecating character. It is easy to understand why the hero manages to win over his critics. In contrast, Supermom is reminiscent of the popular queen bee at every high school, with a little added intelligence to make her more successful with her underhandedness. The author deftly evokes the negative side of city life with toddlers—few places for free play, the daily hassles of navigating a stroller on city streets, cramped apartments, etc.—that transforms Manhattan into more of a cage than an urban oasis.
An appealing comedy delivers many laugh-out-loud moments for the reader who has dealt with a fractious toddler or attempted to cope as an outsider in any type of clique.