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Explore The Guncle book reviews and discover why readers love this series so much. This two-book series by bestselling author Steven Rowley blends humor and heart in telling the grief-laced story of “Gay Uncle Patrick” and his niece and nephew, Maisie and Grant. You’ll fall in love with it, too, so let’s get literary!

the guncle books series inforgraphic.

About The Guncle Book Series

Like Uncle by Steven Riley.

The Guncle is a series of two books by Steven Rowley:

  1. The Guncle (2021)
  2. The Guncle Abroad (2024)

The Guncle books should be read in order, as the second book is a sequel.

The Guncle follows a gay former TV star who takes in his niece and nephew for the summer. The book navigates grief and family responsibilities while imparting life lessons in a heartfelt yet humorous way.

The Guncle Abroad takes the characters to Europe for a multi-country adventure and a family wedding in Italy, five years after The Guncle ended.

It’s a great choice for readers who like books that feel like a big hug.

Age Rating

The Guncle book series is generally best for adults. It contains some adult language and content, including death, grief, and addiction.


Below are the main characters of the first book, The Guncle, without spoilers. More characters are introduced later, but I don’t want to reveal spoilers!

  • Patrick O’Hara (a/k/a “Gay Uncle Patrick” or “GUP”): a former TV star who lives in Palm Springs, California
  • Greg: Patrick’s brother, who is battling addiction and grief
  • Sara: Greg’s wife, who has recently died
  • Maisie: Greg’s nine-year-old daughter (Patrick’s niece)
  • Grant: Greg’s six-year-old son (Patrick’s nephew)
  • Joe: Patrick’s deceased partner
  • Clara: Patrick’s sister

The Guncle: Synopsis and Review of The Original Book

  • Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor
  • Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • USA Today bestseller
  • An NPR Book of the Year
  • Finalist for the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards

My Review: ★★★★☆

Best Quote:

Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.

Social media compelled me to pick up The Guncle, an LGBTQIA+ book that totally lived up to the hype for me.

It’s about a former Hollywood star, “Gay Uncle Patrick” (aka “GUP”), and how he becomes the caretaker for his young niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant, during one Palm Springs summer.

This occurs after the death of their ill mother while their father, Greg (Patrick’s brother), battles addiction.

Patrick is also coping with his own grief — the tragic loss of his beloved boyfriend.

Despite the very heavy subject matter, the tone of this book remains playful and heartwarming. The unlikely trio shares downright funny experiences while also coping with their grief and growing as a family after difficult losses.

It’s a unique way to convey a story about grief, and that’s exactly what makes it so beloved. It really captures the waves of emotions in grief and helps the reader learn how others dealt with their ranging emotions after losing someone.

On a side note, so many readers have “dream cast” Schitt’s Creek actor Dan Levy as GUP, so you can picture him as you read along if you want!

If you want to read a beach read that makes you feel something, I think you will love The Guncle too.

The Guncle Abroad: Synopsis and Review of The Sequel

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Guncle Abroad is exactly what the reader craves in a sequel with quirky, beloved characters. Setting “GUP” off on a European vacation with Maisie and Grant, now five years older, reminded me of how excited I was as a child when The Baby-Sitters Club released “Super Specials” whisking my favorite gals around the world.

Take great characters and put them someplace new. It’s practically a formula for success!

Here, the kids (and their uncle) are coping with their dad Greg’s bittersweet nuptials in Lake Como. Prior to that, though, the trio traverses Paris, Venice, and beyond. It’s a delight to follow them along the way, particularly since the trip is filled with the witty Guncle banter readers love and expect.

Like the first book in this series, this book contains some real-life sadness, as grief remains a living, breathing thing over time. A wedding is just the thing to stir it up again. Meanwhile, Patrick is turning 50 and thinking more deeply about life and love.

The resulting narrative has the same humor and heart as the original, with a splash of adventure, and it’s not to be missed for fans of “Gay Uncle Patrick.”

Read More: Books Set in Italy

About Author Steven Rowley

collage of images from steven rowley event discussing the guncle abroad.


Steven Rowley is a graduate of Emerson College and a bestselling, award-winning American author who debuted in 2016 with Lily and the Octopus, a tear-jerking story about a man and his sickly, elderly dog. His book The Celebrants was a Read With Jenna Book Club pick. Readers worldwide fell in love with The Guncle book series.

Rowley is known for blending humor with emotional depth in his stories. He lives in California with his writer husband, Byron Lane.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “guncle” mean?

“Guncle” combines the words gay and uncle to form a nickname for lovable gay uncles.

What is the plot of Guncle?

The Guncle by Steven Rowley follows a gay former TV star who takes in his niece and nephew for the summer. It navigates grief and family responsibilities while imparting life lessons in a humorous way.

Is Guncle being made into a movie?

Yes. Jason Moore is developing and directing The Guncle for Lionsgate.

What happens at the end of Guncle?

The Guncle ends on Patrick’s play’s opening night. His family and new boyfriend are in the audience, and he feels comforted by his memories of Joe and Sara.

Is there a sequel to Guncle?

Yes. The Guncle Abroad by Steven Rowley whisks gay uncle Patrick, his niece Maisie, and his nephew Grant to Europe for a multi-country adventure and a family wedding in Italy, five years after The Guncle ended.


These The Guncle book reviews showcased two books that blend humor and heart in following “Gay Uncle Patrick” and his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant, as they cope with grief.

Remember to read them in order, as the second is a sequel:

  1. The Guncle (2021)
  2. The Guncle Abroad (2024)

And, if you were a fan of the first book, know that the second is not to be missed!

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