Paige Hardt’s debut novel I, Peter Wood is a captivating examination of human relationships and the tale of one family’s journey back to one another.
There’s always a bit of pressure on a debut novelist picked up from the slush pile, and no one knows that better than Hardt, who has been trying to break into the publishing industry since she was a teenager. Hardt’s debut novel is proof that sometimes perseverance is worth the wait, even if your reward does take longer than expected to come to fruition.
Audrey Wood has never got along with her family very well. She’s the odd man out, the black sheep. But when her father dies suddenly, she is forced to return to the family home – the last thing she wants to do at such a difficult time. But as they come together in their grief, Audrey discovers that she needs these virtual strangers just as much as they need her.
Personally, I was of two minds when it came to reading I, Peter Wood, particularly as I have been friends with the author for quite some time. Whilst I was excited and intrigued to read the book that was responsible for her recent success, I couldn’t shake the worrying sensation that it perhaps wouldn’t live up to my (somewhat high) expectations. Nevertheless, I put these feelings aside and approached the book openly, just as I would with any other author.
It turns out I needn’t have been concerned, and I honestly wasn’t prepared for the quality of Hardt’s work. From the outset, her tale is both heart-warming and engaging, her words poetic and well-crafted. The characters are three-dimensional with back stories that draw you in as you ride the Wood family rollercoaster and watch while they struggle to find their way out of this emotional turmoil in which they suddenly find themselves.
Drawn perhaps from her own experiences, it is Hardt’s frankness that I found most endearing. Despite the darker subject with which her novel deals, there are moments of lightness as the subplots come together to create a story that is full of life, further engaging the reader.
This novel is the perfect debut and will sit well on any bookshelf alongside the likes of John Green and Nicholas Sparks. I can’t wait to see more of Hardt’s work in the future.
I, Peter Wood is published through French Press Bookworks/Pen Name Publishing in both paperback and e-book format. It can be ordered into various bookshops or via Amazon.
Don’t forget to read my interview with Paige Hardt here!
[Editor/Author Note: This review was first published by cargoART Magazine.]