By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
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.
The last book on my TBR queue by Simon van Booy. The premise of this book sounded interesting, not to mention I seemed to have picked up books some time ago with similar themes. But anyway, I finally got around to reading it.
I admit, I pretty much read the bulk of this book in one evening. Going between past and present, the book traces the story of Harvey and her estranged uncle, Jason, and how they came into each other’s lives following tragedy. Despite seeing that things obviously worked out in the present, it was interesting to piece together the process of how Harvey came to Jason’s guardianship and how Jason’s life was turned around by the presence of Harvey. It was compelling, reading about his internal struggle, the ghosts of his past, his regrets, and his vices, as well as the massive learning curve he undergoes on how to be a parent, how to take care of another person.
But the author’s depiction of life from Harvey’s side of things was interesting too, particularly six-year-old Harvey. I felt for her early on particularly and how different her parents dealt with her; obviously everyone has her own way of parenting and they all try their best, but it did strike me how her mother seemed to approach her like an adult rather than as a child. I don’t know why that stood out for me, but it did. But seeing how she turned out and how her relationship with Jason changed and she came to see her as her father was touching. Also, kinda jealous that she got her dream job and was working in Paris.
If I had any qualms about this book, maybe I wished it was a chapter longer? The book does leaps and bounds across the course of their relationship, Jason’s development as a father, and Harvey’s childhood. But in the same vein I appreciated that they just focused on the major events of their relationship, however brief her teenage years was in presentation here. The twist at the end was a bit surprising, if only in a sense of how the mysterious ways we are connected whether we realise it or not (and no, I’m not going to go into greater detail as to what that twist was 😛 ).
Overall I enjoyed Father’s Day, it’s another solid novel from Simon van Booy with his signature style of writing and expression, depicting those small moments that we observe in life and the feelings accompanying that. I enjoyed reading about these characters, both the two main characters, as well as the secondary characters that come and go throughout. Can’t wait to see what Simon van Booy writes next!