“A Better Man” by Leah McLaren was amazing in so many ways. I took a chance on it after reading a blurb and I don’t regret it.
To get out of a deteriorating marriage without paying too much in alimony, Nick believes that all he has to do is become a better husband and be more fatherly towards his children. However, the story that unfolds is humorous, heart-breaking and memorable. In pretending to be the perfect husband, Nick finds that he’s actually changing. Slowly, he’s becoming the kind of person worthy of his family. Unfortunately, his transformation is all for nothing once Maya finds out about his plan. The rest of the novel takes its readers on a journey that can only be defined as one word: unexpected. Instead of having the story end in a predictable drama, the author makes sure that each character becomes a better or worse version of themselves.
The characters are what make “A Better Man” the incredible book that it is. Regardless of the fact that I despised Nick and what he was doing, I couldn’t help but also understand his thinking. He was a desperate man searching for an exit out of a life that any man would kill for. Still, when he realized that he had actually become the kind of man he was pretending to be, his entire life took a life-changing turn. Nick goes on a soul-searching journey that further completes his transformation and makes him my most favorite character.
While I liked Maya’s character, I was just so upset that she couldn’t stop smothering her kids to the point that her marriage was dying. I couldn’t believe that she could have been so afraid of returning to a lovey-dovey life with Nick that she’d fall into a mindless routine. However, throughout the course of the story, her character also takes a surprising turn for the better. Nick’s lies actually encourage her to come out of her shell; she ventures back into her old career, she tries new things and regains the confidence she once had. At the end of the novel, Maya returns to the kind of person she used to be in college. I’m also glad that she found the courage to face the worst when Nick’s lies surfaced.
The other characters also added to the story but Adam Gray rises as my favourite secondary character. I sniffed out his deceitfulness from miles away but how Nick responded to Gray’s betrayal is written so damn well that it is just literature at its best.
Overall, Leah McLaren wrote an amazing novel and I’ve saved so many quotes from it that half of the book is in yellow highlighter.
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (July 7, 2015)
Genre: YA Fiction
Completed: December 2015
Source: ARC Copy