When it comes to pleasure reading, I tend to slow dance with books, absorbing them chapter by chapter, renewing them several times (the library’s so impatient), and generally not plowing through as if there’s a deadline. It’s probably a reaction to being a student all my life. But once in a while, I’ll start a book that captivates me from page one and sets my hands in that wonderful page-turning trance.
I began reading Father Fiction too late last night, but willed my drooping eyes to stay open for “just one more chapter.” (We tell ourselves all sorts of lies when we’re sleep-deprived). As I curled up with it on the couch all afternoon today, I realized I was making the same faces as if he was reading it aloud in the same room, as if we were having a conversation. Let’s just say Don’s writing reaches my head and heart in ways few authors do. He itches my desire to write that lies dormant half the time as well as my desire to simply live a good life.
Honestly, I chose Father Fiction because it was the only Miller book at the library I hadn’t read yet. But even though I can’t relate to his experience in the sense that my dad’s been here all my life for me, he helps me appreciate what it’s like to be fatherless, how much of a difference even father figures can make, and how vital it is to see God as Father who’s not ambivalent but involved and so very real. What I found most beautiful, though was seeing Don’s story unfold in his understanding of fatherhood on a meaningful, not just conceptual level. He learned from mentors over the years– men who stepped in and poured into him love and honor and wisdom he never got from his biological dad– and in turn, has mentored younger men whose fathers are absent, too.
I love that he doesn’t just lament the loss of fatherhood and wallow in self-pity, but suggests that mentorship, though not a total replacement for fathers, is a force powerful enough to turn the tide of our society whose prisons are mostly populated by men and women with negative or no relationships with their dads.
Maybe it’s too early to write such a glowing reviews since I still have a few chapters to go, but in any case, I hope that the healing he’s experienced can become a reality for everyone that reads it–whether you’re fatherless like him or have a good or decent relationship with your dad like me.