by Edwin John Wintle
For the first 13 years of his favorite niece's life, Edwin Wintle has been able to enjoy her from a distance. A gay film agent who lives in Greenwich Village, he jumps on the train to visit his troubled sister Megan and her two daughters in Connecticut but has no real notion of what it's like to care for a child.
That all changes when Megan—divorced from her alcoholic husband and newly sober herself—calls Wintle in 2003, sobbing that 13-year-old Tiffany (a pseudonym) is skipping school and failing classes. Wintle, then 40, finds himself saying, "We should get her down here as soon as possible." A week later, he opens his door to a pale girl in skintight jeans who's beclouded by a searing hangover.
The story of the author's transition from single guy to guardian of an aspiring rock goddess, Breakfast with Tiffany is charming without being sentimental. Wintle's dead-on wit sparks the narrative, and his neurotic but creative approach to child-rearing is bracing: Annoyed at having to stay home with the grounded Tiffany, he considers a chum's offer to drag her to a play "even longer than Wagner's Ring Cycle." In the end, both Wintle and his feisty niece learn more than they expected about the power of love—in all of its incarnations.