Tell me goodnight by Kelsey Kingsley
This is a shitshow.
There’s truly no other word for it. The blurb paints a picture of a grieving, single father to three little girls, who gets a second chance at love when he meets the aspiring author Tess. The father – Jon – is a talented pianist but struggles to make ends meet and Tess who sorely needs inspiration agrees to babysit Jon’s daughters in an attempt to get out of her literary rut. It sounds quite lovely with the potential of some really angsty moments. A tortured artist’s soul and all that.
It starts with Jon’s recollection of a typical night with his wife. And then it all goes downhill from there.
First of all, the narrative is all fragmented. And not in a good, thought-out, intended way. But more in the ”I-don’t-know-how-to-write-longer-sequences” kind of way. But still. That’s just my personal opinion and that particular writing style doesn’t make or break a book.
However, then there’s the typical beginner’s mistake of making two characters fall too fast. Tess and Jon have barely met before they’re more or less obsessed with each other. Not in a romantic way at first, but it’s more like an inexplicable fascination. You truly don’t understand why the main characters are obsessing over each other. I had to go back to see if I happened to skip a chapter and missed something essential. It’s like the author has an idea of a love story but is unable to put it in print.
Then it’s the descriptions of the daughters and parenthood. This is quite central to the story. So, this book would have needed to be proof-read by someone with children of their own. Or even just somebody who had met a child at some point.
Beacuse even though the three little girls lost their mother and their father is grieving. Even though their circumstances may have made them precocious and mature beyond their years. The descriptions of many of the interactions with the children are … wrong. Just wrong. Especially the 2 and a half year-old. Any parent knows that’s a really tough age where you basically can’t take your eyes off the kidlet for a second unless you want fires, flooding, locust infestations or fatal accidents. You most definitely won’t leave a 4 year-old in charge and sneak away to play the piano.
I suspect Kingsley haven’t met a child in her life. Or has even the most rudimentary understanding of what parenthood is like.
In Tell me goodnight, Jon’s only job is to play the piano at a bar, and he earns crap. He’s feeling really bad about it – as he should – since on that salary he can only afford a run-down, crappy apartment in a dangerous neighborhood. He also seems to feed his daughters only mac’n cheese, ice cream and oreo’s. He doesn’t enjoy playing the piano ever since his wife died, but still, he won’t accept help from obviously loving relatives. And he won’t consider trying for a job that actually pays more than tips.
It’s just too much. To be that selfish and irresponsible as the sole provider for three small children and pass it off as acceptable behavior because: Hello! Tortured artist. But. Parents. Do. Not. Work. That. Way. At least not if they’re capable and loving which Jon allegedly is.
And then there’s the first time Tess babysits. I get all worked up thinking about it. So, Tess and Jon don’t really know each other at this point, but Jon has decided to let a non family-member watch his girls for the first time. When he comes back home after his gig, Tess and all three girls are watching a slasher movie. A. Slasher. Movie. The youngest girl is 2 and a half years old. The older ones 4 and 6.
Tess’ excuse is that they were having such a good time and she didn’t want to be the bad guy. Really??!! For fucks sake! She was supposed to be the adult and take care of the children! But then comes the really messed up part; Jon’s naturally upset and fires Tess. But then he feels bad about it and lets her keep the job. WTF?!? No sane parent would ever leave their kids with someone who proved to have such poor judgement as Tess obviously has.
After that, the story continues with Jon and Tess forming a friendship of sorts. This is also inexplicable because, again, Kingsley fails to convey why this is. Tess and Jon don’t seem to have anything in common. Tess is quite immature and Jon only ever thinks of his wife, daughters and his inability to make it big as a musician. But either way, Tess comes over one time when Jon’s feeling particularly down. And, with one sentence, she turns his life around. A twenty-something wannabe author shares her wisdom with this grieving, single father and, lo and behold, that’s all Jon needs to get his head out of his ass. All of a sudden, Jon decides to shave and gets all inspired. He writes his first song since his wife passed and of course it’s amazing! And naturally, that’s when the members of a famous band seek him out to offer him the chance of a lifetime.
It’s just too silly for words.
So. I couldn’t finish the book. I read approximately half before I called it quits. What surprised me though, was that this isn’t Kingsley’s first book. It could be understandable to make the mistake of writing about things you don’t know or understand when you’re a beginner. But she’s actually published a few novels prior to Tell me goodnight.
In conclusion. The time I spent reading half of this book is time I could have spent reading something good. Don’t make the same mistake I did.