• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper (April 26, 2016)
“A strong voice full of poetic, timeless grace.”—San Francisco Examiner
When devastating news shatters the life of six-year-old Harvey, she finds herself in the care of a veteran social worker, Wanda, and alone in the world save for one relative she has never met—a disabled felon, haunted by a violent act he can’t escape.
Moving between past and present, Father’s Day weaves together the story of Harvey’s childhood on Long Island and her life as a young woman in Paris.
Written in raw, spare prose that personifies the characters, this remarkable novel is the journey of two people searching for a future in the ruin of their past.
Father’s Day is a meditation on the quiet, sublime power of compassion and the beauty of simple, everyday things—a breakthrough work from one of our most gifted chroniclers of the human heart.
Buy, read, and discuss this book.
Simon Van Booy is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, including The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is the editor of three philosophy books and has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and the BBC. His work has been translated into fourteen languages. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
Connect with Simon
I can’t decide if I like this book or not.
I know that sounds weird. It is weird for me, because usually when I’m reading a novel, I have a good idea of whether or not I like it, and how much. With Father’s Day, though, I feel like it’s inserted itself into my brain so easily, so smoothly, that there was never a sense of “I’m reading this; what do I think?” rather than “Oh, hey, I completely get this story.”
Simon Van Booy’s prose is deceptively simple. From the opening chapters, which are from child- Harvey’s point of view to the chapters twenty years later that let us see adult-Harvey living in Paris, the writing is clean, the characters well-defined. Her parents, though we don’t spend much time with them, seem like lovely people and Jason, the man who becomes her father after their death, is complex and prickly, but clearly has a good heart. (I also really loved the characters of Leon, the French tutor, and his daughter Isabelle.)
I liked the method of Harvey’s box of father’s day presents to Jason being the triggers for memories, letting us see in flashback how six-year-old Harvey with two parents, became twenty-six-year-old Harvey with only Jason (technically her uncle) and a life in Paris. I liked that they earned their mutual affection and respect for each other. I felt that the book was generally truthful.
But at the same time, I’m left with the feeling that I didn’t so much experience this novel, as sort of assimilate it. Maybe it’s my own brain distancing itself from the emotional resonances with my own relationship with my stepfather, a man it took me twelve years to truly accept as family, or maybe it’s just that the plain, stark language didn’t give me that “oh, I love this language” feeling, even though ultimately, I found the story to be moving and very real.
So, would I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely. It was engaging and interesting, and emotionally truthful.
But I’m still not sure I liked it, because I’m not sure that word ‘like’ is an appropriate choice.
Goes well with a ham sandwich on warm baguette and a glass of sparkling lemonade.
Tuesday, April 26th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 27th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, April 27th: A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog
Thursday, April 28th: Bibliophiliac
Friday, April 29th: Sarah Reads Too Much
Tuesday, May 3rd: FictionZeal
Thursday, May 5th: she treads softly
Monday, May 9th: Jen’s Book Thoughts
Tuesday, May 10th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, May 11th: Bibliotica
Thursday, May 12th: A Book Geek
Monday, May 16th: Novel Escapes
Tuesday, May 17th: The many thoughts of a reader
Wednesday, May 18th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 19th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, May 20th: Time 2 Read