The Good Father by Noah Hawley – Book Review

The Good Father by Noah Hawley
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

Youthful indiscretions can cause inconveniences later in life, although hopefully they aren’t always life-destroying. For Dr. Paul Allen, his indiscretion was a particularly ill-suited marriage. He was a young and ambitious doctor, she was a flighty young woman. They might never have even stayed together, had it not been for an unintended pregnancy. Although the marriage ended, Paul would always have his son Daniel as a memento – at least during those times when he actually saw Paul. Now Paul has a new wife, two new sons, an entire new life into which Daniel barely fits. Many days Paul likely doesn’t even give his firstborn son much thought. All this changes one summer evening at a political rally in California when a promising young presidential candidate is assassinated and Daniel – now going by the name Carter Allen Cash – is accused of pulling the trigger. Suddenly, Paul finds that Daniel now consumes every moment of his life, as he tries to prove – even if only to himself – his son’s innocence.

From the first page, The Good Father sucks the reader in with each and every word. A child’s terrible act, a father’s guilt, and absolutely engrossing writing are the keys to The Good Father‘s success. Hawley’s structure was particularly interesting: in addition to Paul’s quest for the truth, we see excerpts of Daniel’s year of driving across the country before the assassination, as well as case studies of other political assassinations. As a rheumatologist, Paul is used to looking at the world as a medical problem, something with relevant case studies, and he addresses his son’s transgression in much the same way, even if he doesn’t realize it immediately:

I thought about how the clues in a human mystery are nothing like the clues in a medical mystery. With medicine you are dealing wth scientific facts. Tissue samples, blood tests. The human body is a finite entity, with a finite number of systems…. But with a human mystery, it is difficult even to decide what constitutes a fact. -p. 173

The Good Father is really about the journey of grief, guilt, and acceptance , but it also to a lesser extent explores the psyche of a young man losing his way. Both stories are resonant, and Hawley’s way with words makes this story irresistible. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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31 Hours by Masha Hamilton- Mini Review

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

As I read this book quite some time ago, I will be using my mini-review format, which means I will be using the publisher’s description instead of writing one of my own.

Publisher’s Description:

A woman in New York awakens knowing, as deeply as a mother s blood can know, that her grown son is in danger. She has not heard from him in weeks. His name is Jonas. His girlfriend, Vic, doesn t know what she has done wrong, but Jonas won t answer his cell phone. We soon learn that Jonas is isolated in a safe-house apartment in New York City, pondering his conversion to Islam and his experiences training in Pakistan, preparing for the violent action he has been instructed to take in 31 hours. Jonas s absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events, and as the novel moves through the streets and subways of New York we come to know intimately the lives of its characters. We also learn to feel deeply the connections and disconnections that occur between young people and their parents not only in this country but in the Middle East as well. Carried by Hamilton s highly-lauded prose, this story about the helplessness of those who cannot contact a beloved young man who is on a devastatingly confused path is compelling on the most human level.

I read this book for Julie’s appearance on That’s How I Blog. Hamilton tells an interesting story with interesting characters, and I was really intrigued with how she intertwined the lives of the different characters. Ultimately, though, I didn’t feel that there was enough justification presented for why Jonas behaved as he did, and that really kept me from loving the book.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*

This review was done with a book received from the library
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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