One Small Thing

Avery Tacconi, the 28-year-old heroine of Inclan’s latest (after 2003’s When You Go Away), wants everything to be perfect, but life keeps getting in the way of her plans in this endearing story. At first, fertility problems loom large-Avery abandoned a promising career to put more effort into conceiving-but soon enough her husband’s secret past takes center stage. It turns out that before Dan straightened up and went to business school, he was a drug addict who got his then-girlfriend, Randi, pregnant without knowing it. Surprise! On a lovely summer night in the California suburb of Monte Veda, Dan gets a phone call informing him that Randi has died and left behind a 10-year-old boy, Daniel, who’s probably his son. Avery-who’s emotionally scarred from a childhood marred by her father’s death and her mother’s subsequent depression-shows little compassion for what she perceives as a sordid situation. She returns to work, where she’s tempted by a love affair. Avery’s bad behavior, especially when contrasted with Dan’s superb adaptation to fatherhood, is an unexpected plot point that works. Daniel’s arrival in Dan and Avery’s home offers Inclan the chance to paint touching and realistic scenes that lift her story above standard soap opera fare. Predictably, Avery comes around in the end, but it’s an intriguing-and at times maddening-journey getting her there.

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