Poor Linc Menner. The hero of Househusband not only faces such thorny issues as quality childcare and domestic violence, he does it all while preparing Indian chicken masala for five, potty training his daughter and caring for two abandoned kittens. As every family caregiver knows, the secret to success is multi-tasking. And when Linc leaves California and moves to Rochester, New York where his wife has taken a job as a hospital executive he gets a crash course in the multi-tasking roles of stay-at-home parents. In the elite Rochester suburb where he lives, stay-at-home dads are an unheard of commodity, and Linc is sometimes mistaken for a child-molesting kidnapper.
A former landscape architect for the stars in Los Angeles, Linc purchases a blue passion flower vine, passiflora caerula, soon after moving to the new home that his wife Jo has decorated in a minimalist style. As passiflora vines its way around the dining room and throughout the kitchen, so too do Linc and Jo tentatively explore and grow to understand their new roles. With a humorous and sympathetic tone, debut novelist Ad Hudler explores the insecurity the househusband feels as his self-esteem and personal hygiene decline. Although he's successful at running the household and raising a polite and bright little girl, Linc's lack of gainful employment leads to nagging doubts about his identity. He longs for adult conversation as he searches for validation in his new role. While his neighborhood women friends admire his ability to prepare a meal out of whatever can be found in his vegetable bin, he is not truly one of them. He has the most powerful leaf blower on the block, but cannot comfortably join in with Jo's male colleagues or the men in the neighborhood.
Teaching, training and responding endlessly to his three-year-old, Linc takes his job of parenting as seriously as any CEO. He shares his recipe for Fast and Easy Tortellini with Peas and Prosciutto, vowing that kids love this easy meal. He struggles with whether to allow Barbie or not to allow Barbie, but in the end takes care to provide Career Barbie.
Like a hawk perched high above the landscape, Linc is aware of every movement in his family. In this alternately funny and moving first novel, Hudler ably captures the value of the family caregiver and the depth of love played out in that role. Alice Pelland is a family caregiver writing from Hillsborough, North Carolina.