What’s it all about?:
As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen’s specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons—hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin.
Daniel Allen has always been a good kid—a decent student, popular—but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.
Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities—and limitations—of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.
What did I think?:
This is another book from the Richard and Judy Spring Reads 2013, but I had already heard good things about this novel before it was chosen. It has been compared to We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver, 2003) but from a fathers perspective, but personally, I think the only similarities are that it involves a shooting and that each respective parent blames themselves/asks what else they could have done. It is certainly a thought-provoking read, and I particularly enjoyed the way that we saw the situation from both Daniel and his father’s viewpoints. With the recent controversies around guns, and the increase in shootings at the moment, it felt considerably poignant and relevant. (please see my Stephen King “Guns” post HERE)
Interspersed with the story of Daniel and Paul are several historical accounts of violent gun crimes – Charles Whitman, Lee Harvey Oswald and Hinckley, as Paul tries to come to terms with the fact that his son may be a murderer and attempts to compare these assassins with Daniel, desperate to discover clues he may have missed. I found this incredibly fascinating, and thought it added to the beauty of the writing. A book filled with suspense, drama and emotion, I couldn’t put it down.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):