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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 past 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 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.
Everything Beautiful Began After was one of the most affecting books I read in 2011. I was in a weird place in my life when I stumbled across it and picked it up based solely on the title. It hit all the right nerves inside my body in the right way and I truly connected to it. It didn’t hurt that Simon Van Booy knew how to do flowery prose in an effective and not overly syrupy way.
Sooooo, I picked up this ARC off of Edelweiss based solely on the fact that I loved that first book so much.
I wanna start by saying that you shouldn’t read the marketing copy for this book because it kind of killed most of the suspense for me. I didn’t even look at the marketing copy until I was maybe 30 pages in and was really disappointed that I had. It gave away a plot point that I suspect van Booy wanted to be a little more of a surprise.
This book is about a young girl, Harvey, who grows up, moves to Paris, and prepares for a special visit on Father’s Day. The narrative bounces back and forth, exploring Harvey’s difficult childhood as present-day Father’s Day nears and Harvey plans a few surprises of her own.
This is meant to be a touching examination of what it means to be a father, as well as a rumination on topics such as forgiveness and second chances. But, for me, it was one giant cliché after another after another. The characters felt so very cookie-cutter, the situation they were in felt so overdone, and the writing itself didn’t sparkle the way I’d expect Simon Van Booy’s prose to sparkle. Reading this book was a bit of a drag, and I found myself disappointed, struggling to keep going. My interest honestly petered out about 2/3 of the way through the e-galley. Sorry, Simon.
Moving story? Not even close. An unforgettable tale of loss and redemption? Also a big gigantic nope. I would rather listen to Steven Wright read the Apple terms of service for iPhone updates. The book is just boring with characters that I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about or connect with. As for the “twist” at the end, get out of here with that and it wasn’t hard at all to figure out. It’s a Jodi Picoult move that doesn’t work for her either. Had this not been a library book it would have met its very violent demise like the wood chipper scene from Fargo.