Books and stories with strong, influential, or missing father figures

Image: Pixaby

Fatherhood is a powerful theme in literature and what better day to look at some of the strong, influential or missing father figures in these titles:


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A story full of great characters, including Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a young blind girl in Paris, whose entire world revolves around her father. This Pulitzer Prize winning story embraces important themes, and a plot that’s a wonderful mix of reality and fairytale. Set during World War II in the walled coastal city of Saint Malo, France. Check it out – one of my all-time favorite books!


Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow

Billy Bathgate is a fifteen-year-old boy from the Bronx who becomes a protégé of the notorious Dutch Schultz, a hot-head New York mobster who made his money during the 1930s running beer and controlling the numbers racket. Published in 1989, this book won both the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The 1991 movie stars Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Loren Dean, Bruce Willis, Steven Hill and Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire).


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

This novella, a little over one hundred pages, is really a character sketch of Holly Golightly and her search for a father figure. If you have only seen the movie starring Audrey Hepburn, read the book to get a better understanding of what Holly is all about. For the record, Truman Capote was not happy with the movie version. He wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the part of Holly, and was dissatisfied with all aspects of the film.


I Refuse by Per Petterson

A grim story about a lost friendship between Tommy Berggren and his boyhood friend Jim.   It begins when, after thirty-five years, the two meet unexpectedly on a bridge near Oslo, Norway.

Petterson’s narration then jumps back to 1962 when Tommy is thirteen. His mother has abandoned them and the father regularly beats Tommy and his three younger sisters.  Everything changes when Tommy takes a bat to their father.  On their own, the children are sure they can manage.  But the siblings are separated when town officials send them to be raised in different homes.


Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Historical novel about the charismatic American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, his creative style and innovative designs and his failed marriage to Catherine Tobin, whom he deserted (along with six children) to continue an affair with Mameh Cheney, the wife of a client. He created many amazing houses, but his personal life was a mess.


Onion John by Joseph Krumgold

Everything changes the year Andy Rusch turns twelve.  Until then, being a kid was easy in the 1950s.  And in the small New Jersey town of Serenity, baseball, friends, school and helping out in his dad’s hardware store fill Andy’s days.  Then one day, he befriends the town’s hermit, Onion John.

Mr. Rusch has big plans for Andy, including college at MIT and he doesn’t approve of the friendship.  He wants Andy to get out of Serenity and be the first man on the moon. Andy wants to please his father, but whose dream is it?


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

There is no stronger father figure than Atticus Finch. Set in 1935, in the fictional town of Macomb, Alabama, Harper Lee writes of people and family, of prejudice against blacks, of judgment and justice, of lost innocence, and of heroes.

Young Scout Finch gives an insider’s view into the complicated relationships that exist between blacks and whites, between the poor and the poorer, and between the educated, the illiterate and the ignorant. Forget how Atticus is portrayed in Go Set a Watchman. That book should never have been published. It’s obvious to me that Harper Lee was trying out, and revising characterizations in what is clearly a rough draft for To Kill a Mockingbird. Read my full opinion of Watchman here.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Is there a god in a world that is nearly destroyed and left covered in gray ash, dotted with wanderers and hunted by people who stop at nothing to survive? How does a father keep hope alive in his young son, except to say that they are the “good guys”, the ones who carry the fire? “This is what the good guys do,” he tells him. “They keep trying. They don’t give up.”


“The Year of Getting to Know Us” by Ethan Canin

A great short story about an adult son who visits his dying father in the hospital. Lenny, now middle-aged, forces himself to tell his father not to worry, that he loves him and that his father did all right by him. These words are met with the type of shut-down that plagued his small family during his childhood: “Don’t talk about things you know nothing about.”


When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Nathan and Flora McCann have no children. That was their arrangement. But when Nathan goes duck hunting and finds an abandoned baby boy in the woods, his life changes in unimaginable ways. “I want to adopt that boy,” says Nathan, but his wife does not want a child…

I enjoyed this book very much, which takes many unpredictable turns. The author does a great job highlighting the contrast between bad choices and the need to be loved.


What books can you add to the list?

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I visited the Hundred Acre Wood on my father’s lap

A tribute to all fathers on Fathers Day!

Book Club Mom

six

Early one morning, I sat hidden under a card table in our den.  On one wall near the table was a cabinet where I kept my things: books, papers, crayons and my dolls.  I leaned against the open cabinet, and looked at a book my father had given me.  It was the beginning of summer and my brothers and my sister and I had each received a book.  Mine was Now We Are Six, by A.A. Milne, a book of children’s poems.  I, too, was six.  I had just finished Kindergarten and I was still learning to read.  The words in this book were too hard for me.  I didn’t like to read.   I wasn’t a reader the way my sister was, but I pretended an interest, knowing I should.  All through Kindergarten, I memorized the words to books that were read to me.  I pretended to read these…

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Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica

From the early archives – celebrating four years of blogging! Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica is a great middle school story, and just in time to recommend to your kids for summer reading!

Notice the jersey number on the cover – can you guess whose it is?

Book Club Mom

million dollar
Million-Dollar Throw
by
Mike Lupica

Rating:
4 book marks

Great young adult book. This is the story of Nate, a 13-year-old boy who is the star quarterback for his 8th grade football team. He wins a chance to win a million dollars if he throws a thirty-yard pass through a target during half-time at a New England Patriots game.

The story is mostly about Nate and his best friend Abby. Nate’s parents are under financial stress and Abby is losing her eyesight. These pressures affect Nate’s performance on the football field and, what seemed like a fun contest suddenly becomes too much.

The relationship between Nate and Abby is sweet and moving – Lupica does a good job describing their feelings and with their dialogue. And the parents are realistic, not perfect. Nate’s disagreement with his dad is particularly touching. The author provides a great view into how pressures make even good people…

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Who’s That Indie Author? Yvonne deSousa

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Yvonne deSousa

Genre:  Humor, Memoir

Book:  MS Madness!  A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis

Bio:  Yvonne deSousa is fortunate to have been born and raised on Cape Cod, MA, a beautiful and amusing place, where she lives today.  An avid reader, she didn’t start writing seriously until a multiple sclerosis diagnosis threatened her sanity. Understanding that life with MS would be so crazy she would go crazy if she didn’t learn to laugh at it, she started using her sense of humor to fight back on the page.   Since then, her work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding My Faith, and in the Something on Our Minds anthologies, volumes 1-3.  She also writes a humor blog on her website, yvonnedesousa.com.  She is currently working on her second book.

 Favorite thing about being a writer:  Without a doubt, making people laugh and smile!

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Reaching readers and helping people understand MS Madness! is funny for everyone, not just those with a chronic illness.

Favorite books:  Suspense is my favorite.  At this second, I would have to say Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  Quite ironic for a humorist, I know.

Contact Information:
Website/Blog:  yvonnedesousa.com
Twitter:  @Yvonnedesousa
Facebook:  Yvonne deSousa

Special recognition:   Lots of positive reviews on Amazon and giggles around the world!


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Defending Jacob by William Landay

From the early archives. Celebrating four years of blogging and sharing some early book reviews.

Book Club Mom

defending jacobDefending Jacob
by
William Landay

Rating:
3 book marks

What would you do if your teenage son were a murder suspect? This is what Andy and Laurie Barber face when their son Jacob is arrested for the murder of his classmate Ben Rifkin. William Landay shows how the Barbers navigate through the conflicting emotions of doubt and wanting to believe in Jacob’s innocence. And the Barbers’ marriage suffers when Andy reveals a family secret to Laurie that calls Jacob’s behavior into question. The characters explore the interesting questions of nature versus nurture and the science of behavioral genetics.

Although the story is compelling, I was disappointed by the unrealistic characters and unexplained details in the book. I think Jacob’s character, a 14-year-old eighth grader, acts more like a 16-year-old or older, especially in his use of vocabulary and ideas when he talks to his parents. Side characters like Sarah Groehl, Matt Magrath and…

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The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

The Lincoln Lawyer
by
Michael Connelly

Rating:

Mickey Haller has a big problem. As a criminal defense attorney, he works the system to get his clients the best deals, no matter the offense. He doesn’t ask if they did their crimes because it doesn’t matter. Admit to this, get a lesser sentence. Say you did this and avoid the death penalty. That’s his job and it pays the bills, usually. But deep down, he wonders if he could tell if one of them was truly innocent. The words of his famous lawyer father, a man who died before he could know him, echo in his brain, “There is no client as scary as an innocent man.” Haller is about to find out.

Haller’s office is the back of a Lincoln, driven by Earl Briggs, a former client who is paying off his legal fees. Briggs drives his boss from LA courthouses to area prisons and everywhere in between, meeting with biker gang leaders, drug dealers, and prostitutes. His two ex-wives still like to help him:  his case manager, Lorna Taylor and prosecuting attorney Maggie McPherson, mother of their young daughter, Hayley.

Everything changes when Haller picks up a new client, Louis Ross Roulet. Roulet is the son of the rich and powerful real estate mogul Mary Alice Windsor and he is sitting in a holding cell, arrested for assault against a woman he picked up at a bar. This case could solve many of his financial troubles.

The injuries to Reggie Campo and the evidence point to Roulet, but he claims innocence. Was it a set-up? Something from an older case nags Haller. His private investigator, Raul Levin begins to uncover the evil truth which will put Haller and those around him in great danger. Haller will have to use all his tricks, in and out of the courtroom, to keep his family safe.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a swift-moving and entertaining legal crime story, full of personality and fun details. Fans of Michael Connelly books will enjoy the brotherly connection between Haller and Harry Bosch, who share the same father. While they don’t meet up in this book, the relationship adds to Haller’s back-story.

While I liked the story and the characters, I was disappointed with a few plot twists that remain tangled and unexplained, and I wondered why Connelly introduced them. Connelly is a talented story-teller, however, and I look forward to reading more of both the Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch books. I recommend The Lincoln Lawyer to readers who like entertaining legal stories – a definite vacation read! I’m also looking forward to watching the movie starring Matthew McConaughey soon.


I read this book as part of my
Build a Better World 2017 Summer Reading Challenge



Want more?  I enjoyed Echo Park by Michael Connelly – check it out here.

Have you read The Lincoln Lawyer or watched the film? What did you think?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

From the early archives: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Celebrating four years of blogging – and sharing some early book reviews!

stevejobsSteve Jobs
by
Walter Isaacson

Rating:
4 book marks

This biography gives us the full picture of Steve Jobs, good and bad. It is a detailed history of Jobs, his life and his creations at Apple, NeXT, Pixar and Apple again. And it’s a look at the impatient frustrations of a perfectionist who, with the genius of vision and presentation, liked to distort reality, had poor people skills and thought no rules applied to him.

I don’t know what to think of Steve Jobs. He derived his happiness from creating and was driven to do so. Isaacson shows a man who manipulated people, berated them, and often ignored his wife and children. He regularly took credit for ideas that came from his creative team and rearranged facts to benefit his point, all with no regrets. But time and again he enabled people to achieve the impossible by refusing to believe that something could not be done.  The combination of persistence and genius made him a remarkable man.

AND…Steve Jobs gave us the Mac, fonts, graphics and desktop publishing. Then he gave us the iPhone, the iPod, iTunes and music. He allowed us to re-experience the feelings we used to have in record stores as we excitedly flipped through albums and heard new music on the store speakers. Then he gave us the iPad, movies and books all with a touchscreen. He knew what we wanted, just as he said, before we knew what we wanted.

This was a very interesting read. My only negative comment is that it was sometimes repetitive, particularly on the subjects of distorted reality and Jobs’ belief in closed-end product design. I also thought the author often portrayed Jobs as too much of a beloved hero in the second half of the book, once Jobs returned to Apple. But then again, that’s when we got all these great products. And I don’t think I could live without them!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!