Parent Imperfect is a story about fathering for the ages. Subtle. Honest. Important. 


The Description

Publication Date: June 1, 2024

Parent Imperfect, the sequel to One-Match Fire, tells the story of a man who was almost given up for adoption, another man who wishes he had been, and the son who came to them because he was.

Parent Imperfect is a novel about the joys and sorrows of fatherhood as two men, one an eager father and the other a reluctant father, face the challenges of raising their adopted son. One grows emotionally aloof because he fears he cannot love a child who is not biologically his own. The other battles severe depression yet knows he must remain the anchor for the little family. And as the son grows and sees all of this, he comes to doubt that he can ever truly belong or be worthy of love.

The boy finds solace in his grandparents, his growing artistic talent, which is haunted by horizontal lines that reveal their profound meaning at the novel’s climax, his imaginary friends, who may not be so imaginary, and the little cabin in the Ozarks where the men of the family have always found peace with each other as they shed their defenses (as well as their clothes when they skinny-dip) to find common ground. The novel culminates in a stolen car, a brazen act of vandalism to the beloved cabin, the revelation of long-held secrets, and what a fractious father and son find may be the beginning of a deep and hopeful relationship. It is ultimately a love story (with a hint of magical realism).

Parent Imperfect continues the saga of the Clark family in its newest generation, welcoming an important new character and saying goodbye to a beloved older one. It is a novel of resilience, hope, and the unlikely ways people find to bind themselves to each other.The Review

In an idyllic forest sits a cabin. In and out of that cabin come the men of this story, all flawed and wanting more from themselves and from those who try to love them. Paul Lamb has written something between poetry and prose in Parent Imperfect.

The story begins with Curt driving. Although later (and before, as the story has a throwback), he escapes to the cabin for respite, this day, he appears to drive with a panicked purpose. As he drives, he ponders his choices, his treatment toward his father, and his own faults as a parent.

There are so many contrasts woven into this family drama.  There is unselfish love, unfathomable brutality, timid trust, and rejected faith.  Three generations of men will make great efforts in providing for their families. They will save each other and unintentionally hurt each other, always seeming to only notice their faults along the way. The mystical and ordinary gift that binds them is the family cabin.

David is the patriarch, having inherited the cabin and a long tradition of rituals he shared with his father. David then relives these with his son, Curt. But now, Curt’s new husband, Kelly, must allow himself to be embraced in all the forest and the cabin can offer to unite him with this family. But Kelly has emotional demons that threaten his marriage and his own existence. Can he really open himself up to this hopeful place?

Then a baby changes everything—a son! This brings a new way for all to experience the cabin.

Although the story surrounds the daily lives and innermost thoughts of men, Kathy comes in and out, providing overlooked details to these men she watches so patiently. She sees their strengths, and she sees their failings. She is vocal about both. Married to David, mother to Curt, her role as mother-in-law to Kelly is where she really has power. The author knowingly uses Kathy’s supporting role to gently guide these three men toward their best selves. She understands how an extraordinary life is lived in the ordinary moments. This, in turn, strengthens their relationships with each other and with the youngest, who they hope will carry on the legacy of the cabin.

Does this review seem vague? Does the book seem too beautifully written to be appreciated by a male audience? Does it make women wonder why they should bother turning a page? This might be because the writing is so extraordinary and fresh. I have not read anything like this, so it has been hard to describe. In reading it, I see the possibility of inner doubts of the men in my own life who seem aloof or even overly confident. I wonder which men in my life would appreciate a book recommendation or which women would enjoy reading about a different perspective.

Parent Imperfect is a story about fathering for the ages. Subtle. Honest. Important. Buy Links

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About The AuthorPaul Lamb lives near Kansas City, but he escapes to his cabin in the Ozarks whenever he gets the chance. His stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, and his two novels, One-Match Fire and Parent Imperfect, are published by Blue Cedar Press. He has a master’s degree in English and Writing from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, though he got it for his own edification and not to make himself more employable. You can find him at He rarely strays far from his laptop.



Sandy Saucier
Sandy Saucier
I grew up in South Louisiana but have been a Dallas resident for almost 30 years. I taught elementary school for 31 years. Besides reading, I love to cook.


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Parent Imperfect is a story about fathering for the ages. Subtle. Honest. Important. 5-STAR REVIEW: PARENT IMPERFECT by Paul Lamb