Solitary Man is a wonderful book that may be missed by those who just check out back blurbs. The synopsis makes it sound like a routine “guy leaves girl, comes back to find her pregnant, and tries to atone” stories. While on the surface that is correct, this book delivers a whole lot more.
Kevin Manning is a Boston cop who blames himself not only for his partner’s death, but also for seducing his partner’s sister in the aftermath of the tragedy. Kevin is carrying a tremendous amount of guilt as an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA), and the “tapes” in his head consist of his father telling him that he will never be anything but a drunken loser, just like his dad.
Nikki is a woman who is extremely strong but, faced with the death of her brother and an unexpected pregnancy, she is just trying to survive. She loves Kevin but is not sure whether she can trust him to stay with her forever. Kevin is so unsure of himself that he doesn’t think she should trust him either. Nikki finds herself trying to love Kevin, yet she hedges her bets by planning for an independent future.
Drogin deals with the interior dialogue of an ACOA in a very realistic manner. The fears and doubts along with the dysfunctional behavior in relationships are well documented here. Kevin is trying to force his father into sobriety, but is unwittingly enabling him to drink. Facing this is incredibly difficult, and Drogin does not insult the reader by giving us an instant cure.
What is most impressive that while there is great emotional growth and an optimistic ending, the book is totally realistic about the outside counseling and work needed to recover and live a complete life. I particularly appreciated Nikki’s visits to Planned Parenthood, showing the full range of services they provide to women in need, and Kevin’s first AlaNon meeting. Readers who have dealt with the addiction of a loved one will admire how Drogin shows the strength needed to accept the fact that a person cannot control the alcoholic in his/her life, and that many people need to reach beyond themselves for help. I found this a very impressive book, and a well-told story within the constraints of a series romance.