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.
I have been a long-time fan of Simon Van Booy; his novel, EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER, is one of my favorite books. His latest novel FATHER’S DAY moves between the present and past of Harvey, a young American woman working in Paris, and Jason, the man who adopted her as a child. This juxtaposition of time and point of view gives the narrative a natural balance and momentum.
I had the pleasure of attending Van Booy’s reading at Politics and Prose last week, and I was struck by several things:
- An exploration of the origins and inheritance of violence and its manifestations inspired the book.
- To inform the novel, Van Booy became a “method actor,” taking on the character of the tattoo-covered ex-con while traveling through Paris.
- The warm, humble spirit that infuses Van Booy’s fiction is authentically his.
If reading makes us more empathetic people, FATHER’S DAY feeds that development by giving us a wealth of complicated characters doing their best in difficult situations. Van Booy has a gift for making the small, everyday acts of his characters sacred, and through their actions and choices, they are both revealed and redeemed. Once the threads of the novel come together, a total portrait emerges–one so clear, satisfying, and emotional it lingers long after the pages are closed.
If you enjoy novels of inheritance, family issues, and father-daughter ties, you will love FATHER’S DAY.