Great Unexpected

Unpacking The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

Dan Mooney’s The Great Unexpected promises readers a unique exploration of the unlikely friendship between Joel, a dissatisfied nursing home resident, and his new roommate, Frank, a retired soap opera actor. In this comprehensive review, we delve into the intricate layers of the narrative, unraveling the highs and lows of Joel and Frank’s journey while attempting to reconcile the initial promise of the storyline with the unfolding realities.

Plot and Character Dynamics

The narrative begins with Joel’s palpable discontentment with the routine and restrictions of nursing home life, prompting him to contemplate an escape. The introduction of Frank, an unexpected and seemingly mismatched roommate, adds an intriguing dynamic to the story. Together, the two embark on a mission to break free from the monotony, discovering unexpected opportunities for rejuvenation and self-discovery along the way.


The Great Unexpected boasts a commendable ensemble of characters, each contributing a unique flavor to the narrative. The injection of humor and poignant emotion creates a compelling blend, and the overarching theme of friendship and finding joy in unforeseen places provides a solid foundation for engagement.

Critical Examination

However, the novel encounters challenges, primarily revolving around the characterization of Joel. His portrayal as a consistently grumpy and rude individual limits the depth of the narrative, hindering readers’ ability to form a meaningful connection with the protagonist. The lack of character development further restricts the potential for empathy or understanding.

Moreover, the plot struggles with directionality, revolving around Joel’s desire to escape without offering concrete plans or a compelling narrative arc. The absence of a clear driving force renders the story somewhat aimless, with Joel meandering without a discernible purpose or resolution.

While the novel touches on themes of old age, retirement, and the inevitability of loss, the execution leaves much to be desired. The narrative fails to provide a nuanced exploration of these themes, relying instead on Joel’s gruff exterior as a central focus.


The Great Unexpected falls short of the expectations set by its promising premise. The underdeveloped character of Joel, coupled with the lack of a robust and engaging plot, diminishes the narrative’s ability to captivate readers. Despite the exploration of significant themes, the execution proves inadequate, making it challenging to fully appreciate the potential of the storyline. Personally, I found it difficult to complete the book, as the narrative failed to deliver the depth and engagement needed to sustain interest throughout its pages.



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