Picks and Pans Review: Donorboy

updated 09/06/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/06/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Brendan Halpin
NOVEL

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If this charming tale makes it to the big screen—and it should—it might easily star Hugh Grant in the role of Sean Cassidy, a public-interest lawyer and single guy approaching middle age who takes in the daughter he fathered years earlier via sperm donation. Rosalind, 14, a formerly cheerful adolescent, has just lost her two mommies in a traffic accident involving frozen poultry and feels indignant about moving in with the dad she's never met. Drama and hilarity ensue.

Halpin, the author of two previous memoirs, writes with an easy humor that lets him strike a balance between pathos and irreverence. The book unfolds by way of transcripts—e-mails, journal entries, tape-recorded conversations—moving us through Rosalind's grief and Sean's whirlwind introduction to parenthood in each character's own words. Like a budding romance, the emerging father-daughter relationship involves many missteps, more than one of them leading to the principal's office. By book's end, though, it's clear these two are meant for each other, and Halpin's hopeful finale feels just right.

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