Friday, June 11, 2010

Honour Thy Father

I'm not one to write full-out reviews, but when a really good book comes my way, I can't help but want to force it upon other people.

Currently in an American classics phase, I realized it had been a few years since I'd reread Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. That I picked it up two weeks before Father's Day was pure luck, because the reread made me realize that this novel, more than any other I've read, pays homage to fathers in such a beautiful way that no other novel even comes close.

In many books, young adult or otherwise, the father is nearly or completely absent (as in the case of the boy wizard, the boy genius, the teen demigod, the Little Women, and many more) or just in the background (as in the case of the clumsy mortal, her paramours, and countless others.) One of my other favourite books, Roald Dahl's Danny, Champion of the World, also pays tribute to the father figure, and as you will see in the photo, both these books have been read again and again in the 25 or so years they've been on my shelf.

Harper Lee places the father front and centre, in a position where he truly lives up to his title of head of the family.

This quote focuses on the book's central theme:
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of giving the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

As does this one:
"Sometimes I think I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him..."

This book was written by a woman, so some may argue that she puts the father figure on a pedestal. But most who read the book come away awed and inspired. Read it. If you aren't moved to tears, then you don't have a heart.


sumthinblue said...

My favorite book under this theme would be "Tiger Eyes" by Judy Blume. I read it when I lost my dad to cancer when I was ten, and to this day I still cry whenever I read the book.

Stepford Mum said...

Tiger Eyes is a great book, and it is certainly tearjerking, more so if you have special memories associated with it like you do.

I have all of Judy Blume's children's and YA books from childhood, and am starting to collect them again for my son to eventually enjoy. My mom's rule when we sisters left the house on getting married was that all the books she accumulated over the course of our childhood - the complete hardcover Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew and children's classics both American and British - stay in their house for the grandkids to read.

sumthinblue said...

I'm a big Judy Blume fan too... Your mom's rule gives me an idea. I must keep that in mind for the future :D