Father’s Day falls on June 20 this year. You may have someone with whom to celebrate that paternal bond, or you may find the day challenging to get through. Whatever the case, remember to set boundaries for yourself and spend the day however you see fit. If that looks like finding a book to read about father-children relationships, here are four books that honor fatherhood and the influence the parental figures make in their child’s lives.
“Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo (Quill Tree Books). “Clap When You Land” is a book in which both young adult and adult readers will find nuggets of relatability. The novel-in-verse is about two half-sisters, Camino in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira in New York City, who aren’t aware of each other’s existence until their father dies in a plane crash. So, along with dealing with grief and trauma, these two young girls deal with resentment, the unveiling of secrets and a new, sudden reality where their father is gone and they’re no longer only children. Inspired by the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on Nov. 12, 2001, “Clap When You Land” is touching and beautifully crafted. After losing a loved one, I found reading this novel brought a sense of healing in the way Acevedo excellently depicts grief. It’s a great Pride Month read, too.
“Three O’Clock in the Morning” by Gianrico Carofiglio (HarperVia). Originally published in Italian in 2017 and released as an English translation in March, “Three O’Clock in the Morning” follows 18-year-old Antonio and his father as they spend two sleepless nights roaming Marseilles, France, where they traveled to seek medical intervention with a specialist. It’s 1983, and Antonio has been diagnosed with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The doctor they see, however, believes Antonio is cured. To find out if this is the case, Antonio must stay awake for 48 hours. “Three O’Clock in the Morning” is a tender, heady and heartwarming tale where the strained conversation of a father and son transforms into a lifetime bond. The title comes from an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: “In a real dark night of the soul it is always 3 o’clock in the morning.”
“Small Fry” by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Grove Press). In Brennan-Jobs’ candid memoir, you get a peek into the life of Apple visionary Steve Jobs from the eyes of his firstborn child. As Brennan-Jobs sees it, her father was a cold, detached, cynical man. “Some autobiographies double as acts of self-assertion, opportunities for the author not only to express her side of the story but also to display forgiveness, resilience, strength,” read a New Yorker review of the book. “But Brennan-Jobs’ book seems more wounded than triumphant; it can feel like artfully sculpted scar tissue.” From her birth on a farm to Silicon Valley and her father’s extreme wealth and eventual death, “Small Fry” is a portrait of a misguided childhood and the effects of a parent vaulted into the limelight.
“Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father” by Alysia Abbott (W.W. Norton Company). As revolution starts brewing in San Francisco in the 1970s, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves to the Californian city with his 2-year-old daughter after his wife dies in a car accident. San Francisco is bursting at the seams with gay men in search of liberation, and Steve is immediately swept up into the vibrant, pulsating culture. Steve takes Alysia to parties, has her mingle with “freethinkers” and artists, and they live like drifters, with a constant flow of roommates, moving from rental to rental. Alysia loves this seemingly magical lifestyle as a kid, but once her teenage years hit, she comes to resent it. All she wants is a “normal” life and to fit in with her peers. Soon, though, Steve and many of his friends succumb to the AIDs epidemic. “Fairyland” is the story of Steve and Alysia, constructed through Steve’s journals, letters and writings. It is both a picture of a father-daughter relationship and a snapshot of a vital moment in LBGTQ+ history. Another great Pride read.