The Good Father is an intense, psychological novel about one doctor's suspense-filled quest to unlock the mind of a suspected political assassin: his 20-year-old son.
As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons - hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel.
In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin.
Daniel Allen has always been a good kid - a decent student, popular - but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.
Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities - and limitations - of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.
©2012 Noah Hawley (P)2012 Random House
“The father of a man who assassinates a presidential candidate tries to make sense of his son’s crime in Hawley’s gripping new novel.…With great skill, Hawley renders Dr. Allen’s treacherous emotional geography, from his shock and guilt to his growing sense that he knows far less about his son than he thought.…Hawley’s complicated protagonist is a fully fathomed and beautifully realized character whose emotional growth never slows a narrative that races toward a satisfying and touching conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Good Father is hypnotic and haunting and I lost all track of time when I was reading it. Suddenly the day had become night and still I was engrossed in one father’s poignant story and Noah Hawley’s mesmeric tales of a long litany of assassins.” (Chris Bohjalian, author of The Night Strangers, The Double Bind, and Secrets of Eden)
Spent too much time reviewing other assassinations in history..started out compelling but eventually lost steam through the middle but the ending was satisfactory. Narrator was very good.
Too much time spent on previous assassin/attempted assassins. I wasn't looking for a history lesson. A bit of a disappointment.
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
Noah Hawley examines the emotional trauma that twists the lives of family and friends when the unimaginable, if not the impossible, becomes reality. How does a father and mother retain their balance when their child’s face flashes on the screen in a breaking news report as the primary suspect of a possible terrorist attack on a presidential candidate.
Hawley develops his story with sensitivity and compassion within the larger reality of the civil and moral society in which we must live. In addition to the emotional journey which explores the questions of Could he? Did he? and WHY?, political assassinations in the modern world are reviewed.
For parents, the inevitable question becomes a dark shadow. What did I do wrong as a parent? Is this my fault. The author’s development of the process of examining the determined clinging to denial keeps the reader in suspense. There is a hint at another question to be pondered. When does the parent’s continued pursuit of grasping at straws in the name of saving my child become finding a way to exonerate the parent. The book has suspense and tragedy and raises questions of morality in families, politics and society.
Almost Really Good
The father and his transition from unbeliever to acknowledgment was really done well, as any of us with children can relate.
The narrator did a good job of being objective in his performance, and keeping an even keel as the story developed.
I listened to this book days after the Aurora, CO theatre shootings. Also, I am from Tucson, AZ, where the Gabby Giffords shooting occurred (contrary to the book naming Phoenix as the place of the shooting), so this type of story was especially personal. In addition to the Phoenix error, there were other blatenly incorrect statements (such as the statement that Montana had no speed limits ((they were put in place in 1999)) that I would have thought any first-year editor would have caught and corrected. These types of errors were jarring, and although I liked the book overall, they diminished my enjoyment of it.
I kept going back to see if I'd missed something because this book seemed to jump all over and too often I felt like the current storyline hadn't quite finished before Hawley parachuted into another. Maybe it is a guy-thing to not notice you aren't parenting but it seemed a cliche to finally notice, "oh, gosh, I was busy and I didn't really act as a parent." There were some really good moments but also some that just didn't ring true at all. Characters not well developed - kind of one-dimensional in most cases.
Liked the cast and fell it was read really well.
This is my first time reading Noah Hawley....I might give him another try...maybe....probably not.
Disappointed with the last half of the novel - the plot line completely slowed, almost to a stop, and became the narrator's psychological self-examination and ruminations, which were even repetitive down to the same sentence within a few paragraphs at times.
The performance was average. Perhaps somewhat emotionally distant, which did not help with the plot line either.
I've listened to over 200 audiobooks and this was one of maybe 3 that I've ever considered not finishing.
Disappointing. The novel starts off with great storyline premise but gets lost in the father's self psycho-analysis half way through.
Over-written exploration by a father whose son has committed a public murder. The entire book is details that after many many chapters become boring, redundant. The details don't add up, rather collect in mass and lead, inexorably, to the same conclusions established in early chapters. Most of the story, the reader is inside the father's head. We hear every little thought. Ponderous, dull, lacking the depth of true psychological insight or anything inspired, really. Little drama or discovery - fails to deliver on the promise of the plot setup.
(For a great mystery by Noah Hawley, read/listen to BEFORE THE FALL; or watch the FARGO TV series where Hawley was Showrunner.)
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