STARRED REVIEW
May 2016

Different stories, different father-son dynamics

By Avi
Review by
The bond between father and son carries heft and import—and also joy, contempt, resentment and much more. The relationship presents a challenging dynamic at any age, but the question of the most important thing a father can do for his son is answered in different ways by different people. In this collection of seven vignettes, Newbery Medal-winning author Avi returns to the short-story form to take on this weighty subject.
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The bond between father and son carries heft and import—and also joy, contempt, resentment and much more. The relationship presents a challenging dynamic at any age, but the question of the most important thing a father can do for his son is answered in different ways by different people. In this collection of seven vignettes, Newbery Medal-winning author Avi returns to the short-story form to take on this weighty subject. 

In one of the heavier stories, “Dream Catcher,” Paul is forced to meet the grandfather he never knew. Infused with sharp humor, “Tighty-Whities or Boxers” shows readers Ryan’s ingenious way of learning more about his potential stepfather. And in the more somber yet hopeful “Departed,” Luke arrives home to learn his father has died, and he continues to be haunted by his ghost. 

The questions here are universal: Where is home? What is family? How should I feel? And the situations presented hit upon pertinent and relatable themes—acceptance (or lack thereof), respect, anger, uncertainty, death, change and dysfunction. But along with the harsh realities, Avi’s characters experience awakenings and life-changing interludes as they seek to answer the titular question: What is the most important thing for fathers and sons? 

Avi is a master of just about anything he writes, and this collection is superbly crafted and ideal for discussions.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Avi for The Most Important Thing.

This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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