Saturday, March 03, 2007


There are books you read, and then there are books you inhabit. For me, The Dead Fathers Club was in the latter category.

In the course of reading this novel, I lived in the mind of a sensitive, funny, complicated eleven year old boy who's struggling mightily with the sudden loss of his father.

I lived over the pub his father used to own, but which was now being taken over by the dreaded Uncle Alan; and I nursed my secret suspicion that Uncle Alan was after more than the family business. When he started putting his hand on my mother's bum and buying me a Playstation, my worst fears were confirmed.

If grieving over a father who appears regularly as a highly demanding ghost, and trying to protect my mother from Uncle Alan weren't enough, I also had to worry about everything else eleven year-olds agonize over: getting picked last on the soccer team, being bullied at school, and deciding whether or not I should kiss the girl who had the most beautiful red-brown hair I'd ever seen.

At first, to be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to live in the mind of an eleven-year-old boy, nevermind one with so many troubles. The first two or three chapters, I wondered what I'd gotten myself--and the huge membership of the Third Day Book Club--into this time. Was this a children's book I was reading? I checked the cover art skeptically.

As it turned out, it was a people's book. You could read it if you were eleven, but you could enjoy it if you were eighty, too. (And yes, it is like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in that sense.) The deeper I went into it, the harder I found it to emerge. And when I did? I found myself thinking in the voice of the young protagonist.

I won't say more, because I don't want to spoil the marvelous, complex and surprising conclusion for anyone who might read it. But I will say I loved this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I kept talking about it at my readings this week.

A couple of times, my helpful husband had to poke me and say, "Excuse me, but aren't you supposed to be promoting The Liar's Diary?"

So, oh yes: Read The Dead Father's Club, and that other book with the punchy title? Read that, too. Rumor has it they're both fantastic.

Other reviews of Matt Haig's novel:



Alex S said...

I saw this book at the bookstore and really want to read it but I have been plagued with a lot of work during the week lately and before I read that book I really want to read YOUR book which I hear is just wonderful. Can't wait to see you here in Portland next week!!!

Patry Francis said...

alexandra: I can't believe it's coming so soon! I'm over the moon with excitement!

Shannon Hopkins said...

I had too much work this month and couldn't do it. I notice that you're thinking of reviewing Finn by Jon Clinch next month. My friend got a review copy and had some interesting things to say about that book, and I think I'll have a little more time in March, so I'd be interested. So you're going to Portland next week, eh?

Patry Francis said...

Tara: Yes, the concept behind Finn has really captivaed me. I'm glad you're interested.

And yes, I'll be in Portland on the 11th. I'll also be in Seattle (!) on the 10th, where I will be doing a booksigning at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop at noon.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

I really wanted to read this, but I was thrown off course because we got an ARC at the bookstore of what I think should be the next book, or at least on the list...I read it in one day. ONE day. The Raw Shark Texts. Blew my mind.

But I will read this, and possibly even blog about it, just out of order :)

Anonymous said...

I actually bought the book in time this month - unfortunately, it's stuck in my car trunk! After reading your review I'm more anxious than ever for us to get the trunk open and I can finally read it! I did link to your blog though, so others can find your review.

Patry Francis said...

jordan: ARCs! That's a great little perk.

terri: Get that trunk open! I think you will really enjoy this book!

Anonymous said...

I see I am not alone. I got as far as ordering Matt's book online. It hasn't arrived yet but I'm fully prepared to love it!

btw, my gorgeous copy of Liar's Diary has arrived. I've already read it and fallen crazy in love with it, but I'm bringing it to NY so you can sign it--I forgot to get you to sign my galley.

Patry Francis said...

Tish: By then, I will also be able to get your signature on Town House!