You know what I realized? I realized that I don't really read a lot of books written by male authors. Is that weird? I feel like that's weird, like I'm being sexist without knowing it. Weird observations I make while reading in the middle of the night.
Father's Day - Simon Van Booy
The moving story of an orphaned girl named Harvey and the troubled uncle who raises her—an unforgettable tale of loss and redemption from the author of The Illusion of Separateness
At the age of six, a little girl named Harvey learns that her parents have died in a car accident. As she struggles to understand, a kindly social worker named Wanda introduces her to her only living relative: her uncle Jason, a disabled felon with a violent past and a criminal record. Despite his limitations—and his resistance—Wanda follows a hunch and cajoles Jason into becoming her legal guardian, convinced that each may be the other’s last chance.
Moving between past and present, Father’s Day weaves together the story of Harvey’s childhood and her life as a young woman in Paris, as she awaits her uncle’s arrival for a Father’s Day visit. To mark the occasion, Harvey has planned a series of gifts for Jason—all leading to a revelation she believes will only deepen their bond.
With extraordinary empathy and emotional impact, the award-winning writer Simon Van Booy has crafted a simple yet luminous novel of loss and transcendence, second chances and forgiveness: a breakthrough work from one of our most gifted chroniclers of the human heart.
Right away I have to tell you something that almost made this a stop reading within the first 50 pages because it's a trend I see more and more in books and it drives me CRAZY. Stop adding fluff. The first twenty pages or so describe Harvey as a child and her relationship/home life with her parents, who ultimately die in a car wreck, which is basically the start of the story. That's all fine. Then we get to the "Twenty Years Later" and Harvey is all grown up. She's gone to college, she's started her career, she's living in Paris and it's just page after page of nothing about Paris and her living there. What the streets and buildings look like, her commute to and from work, all of this.
It adds nothing to the story, It could all be taken out and literally start with Harvey picking up Jason at the airport for a Father's Day visit because I found myself flipping though all of that and not reading it. Did I miss any story? No. So stop it, authors. Stop it with your fluff. I don't know you have a word or page minimum to fill but it's horrible and it turns so many readers off if they have to plow through useless crap to get to the meat of the story.
Which is all a really long way of telling you to NOT give up on this book. I know, there's fluff and it kind of gives you more fluff periodically in the book, but just skim it. Truly, because the meat of this story is so great and so endearing, I'm really worried people are going to give up and miss out on such a heart tugging story. Because that's what it is. It's really great.
Harvey, orphaned at age six after her parents tragically die in a car accident, is shuffled between teacher's homes until a permanent home can be found for her. Unorthodox social worker Wanda meets Harvey's uncle Jason, who by all first impressions, is not the ideal candidate to adopt a child. He's been to prison for assault, he kind of lives off the system but makes money on the side, his house is a mess, and he doesn't really have clear direction in his life. Nothing about him or his lifestyle scream, "excellent parental candidate", yet Wanda has a gut feeling that this is the fit. Eventually Wanda gets Jason to agree to take Harvey in and from there, both Jason and Harvey's lives change. Jason finds a purpose and clarity to his life, Harvey sees the world in a different light than what her parents gave her, and they both become inseparable. Harvey struggles being in Paris knowing Jason, her dad, is on the other side of the world and she wonders if he's doing OK without her. Will she be OK without him? Not to mention, Harvey learns a secret that is what propels you through this book to the ending which is just.. I don't want to say much to give it away but man. I teared up a little. But the entire bulk of the book is Harvey giving Jason small tokens for his Father's Day gift, but each token is a memory of their lives together, and so we flip between present day and then memories of the past.
But what really just yanked at my heart with this book was my own relationship with my step dad, who for all intents and purposes, is my dad. My biological dad is a hot mess and was never capable or willing to be a father to me or my brother. But my step dad came in, was good to my mom, was good to us, and just took that role on though he didn't have to. I think now that I have my own kids, I have a better understanding of what that means and I can't imagine a world without him in it. The book itself highlights that it doesn't matter who your blood is, it's the people who are there, day in and day out, doing the work. The good, the bad, the ugly. That's what counts.
I highly encourage you to read this book, especially if you have a step parent, because I think you'll just get so much from it. Either way, a really great book. You can find your own copy of Father's Day on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as always. In the meantime, learn more about author Simon Van Booy on his website, Facebook, and Twitter!