"Early Morning Riser," | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider
“Early Morning Riser,” by Katherine Heiny, is a contemporary novel with a homespun ambiance, its characters likely found at church picnics or town meetings. Add an endearing Boyne City, Michigan, setting and this lighthearted, well-written novel is a salve for senses on overdrive.
Jane, a second grade teacher, moved to Boyne City a month ago and is locked out of her house on a Friday. It’s Duncan to the rescue, the community’s helpmate, a carpenter by trade he’s always willing to help those in need, even continuing to mow the lawn of his ex-wife, Aggie, who remarried an insurance agent 10 years ago.
To thank Duncan, who’s later described by Jane’s new friend Freida as “extremely social,” Jane invites Duncan to stay for dinner, which leads to him spending the weekend. Monday arrives and Jane, normally an attentive pro in the classroom, shows videos to her students because she can’t keep her eyes open.
Duncan morphs into being Jane’s boyfriend, but their relationship is rocky because Duncan is overly open about past hook-ups and his marriage, yet the Casanova has a good heart so how can Jane fault him? She loves him but feels threatened; like an overly friendly puppy dog, Duncan continues to bring up previous liaisons and swears to Jane he’ll never marry again. When a tragedy occurs, suddenly everything changes and the two become a three-some.
More will be revealed in this charmer that’s as comfortable as slipping into a comfy robe. While “Early Morning Riser” focuses on Jane and Duncan’s relationship, and their circle of friends, this discussable read will appeal to teachers because of Jane’s interaction with her students and fellow instructors.
Readers will pull for Jane as she tries to adjust to life with and without Duncan, a unique man worthy of simultaneously being hugged and hung.