Family relationships are complicated, and often, none more so than those between fathers and their children. This month we celebrate dads, and these books explore father/child relationships in interesting and sometimes subtle ways. Bonus: All of these books would make great gifts for Pops.
ROAD TO RECKONING by Robert Lautner (Touchstone) Thomas Walker is twelve when he and his father set out to sell Samuel Colt’s newest invention, the revolving gun. Three days into the trip, his father is murdered. Thomas, alone and bewildered, meets an ex-ranger, Henry Stands, who agrees to give him safe transport. He’s an unlikely father figure, but this adventure story set in the Old West is a rousing tale that celebrates fathers and those who too often must fill their shoes.
ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris (Little, Brown) Mentioning David Sedaris on a Father’s Day post feels like cheating a bit, but in case you haven’t read his essay “You Can’t Kill the Rooster,” we’ll take the chance. Sedaris is irreverent and, at times, profane, but boy oh boy, is he funny. His personal essays spare no family member, and his recollections of his father are endowed with a poignancy only a truly talented writer can muster while talking about a dad who perpetually ate dinner in his underwear.
THE UNDERWATER WELDER by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf) Jack Joseph is used to tense situations: he’s an underwater welder who regularly deals with the literal pressure of his work. However, Jack becomes more and more unsettled as his wife prepares to give birth to his own son. Soon an odd encounter beneath the water confounds Jack, leaving him to come to terms with his long-dead father in this touching, honest graphic novel.
DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC: A TALE OF MADNESS, MEDECINE, AND THE MURDER OF A PRESIDENT by Candice Millard (Doubleday) Abram Garfield died when his son James was just two years old. James would feel the loss keenly as he grew up, but with determination and discipline, he pulled himself from poverty to become a scholar, Civil War hero, and an eminent congressman. His rise to the presidency is as astounding to read about as it is inspiring, but mere months after his inauguration, an unhinged man shot President Garfield in front of the president’s 15-year-old son. The 80-day fight for his life, complete with help from Alexander Graham Bell, is one of the most piteous true stories I’ve read, and the outpouring of love for the nation’s beloved, if short-lived, president is deeply moving.-JENNIFER RAVEY