“I read Steven Rowley’s third novel “The Guncle” with my 8-year-old niece in mind. After all, his book makes a case for how parenting extends beyond a child’s actual parents. Uncles, aunts, friends, grandma, grandpa, babysitters: “It takes a village,” Rowley reminds me during our recent conversation.

It was “The Guncle” that reminded me of what my own niece, who has experienced abrupt life changes due to the pandemic and sudden family shifts, told me recently after I made an aside about how it’s unlikely I’ll become a parent at this point in my life. Ever the inquisitive one, she said, “What do you mean, Uncle?” I briefly explained that if I were going to parent a child, it would’ve happened years ago. She corrected me, reminding me that, in her eyes, I am a parent. “But you’ve got me,” she said, as my heart burst at the seams…”

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