This book starts with tragedy–it says so on the back cover. So the opening pages about Harvey and her parents are poignant. Her mother mentions an uncle she has never met, but not in a positive way. “Jason is not part of our family anymore…He’s not a nice man.” Jason, Harvey’s father’s brother, is a disabled felon with a criminal record.
Suddenly the book jumps ahead 20 years. Harvey is living in Paris and her father is coming to visit. She has prepared a Father’s Day gift for him—a box full of memorabilia. She also has a mysterious envelope which contains some official documents which she is nervous about sharing with him.
When Harvey is orphaned, her case is handled by an intuitive social worker named Wanda who sees potential and a capacity for love in Harvey’s uncle Jason that he is not even aware of himself. This social worker takes a risk and the story that ensues is an honest and earthy portrayal of the challenges of parenting and the tricky business of adoption. It’s about believing in others and about believing in yourself.
I loved the characters in this novel and how they develop. Van Booy is himself no stranger to tragedy, which gives the book an authentic feel. There was an amazing surprise in that envelope of documents and a further twist at the end of the story which will no doubt generate discussion. Van Booy’s simple straightforward writing style felt slightly awkward at times, but overall I found this to be a captivating story about family, belonging, and home.
Note: I’m on the Reviewer’s List for nudge-book.com. Father’s Day was sent to me as an advance copy. It comes out later this spring to coincide with Father’s Day!