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That's What She Read

The Good Father

The Good Father - Diane Chamberlain What makes a good father? For that matter, what makes a good parent? Diane Chamberlain's latest novel, The Good Father, explores parenthood in all of its pain, suffering, heartache, doubt, happiness, and unconditional love. Told through the eyes of three different parents who are brought together under the most trying circumstances, it is a celebration of parenthood as much as it is a testament to the lengths parents are willing to go to protect their child.The Good Father is less about fatherhood and more about parenthood. While Travis' travails are the main focus of the novel, much of the narrative also follows Erin's grief process and Robin's struggles to come to terms with her past. The interconnecting theme is the sacrifice each has accomplished for the sake of his or her child and the repercussions of such sacrifices. As their stories unfold, the reader is taken on a roller coaster of emotions as one is forced to come to grips with each of the narrator's actions and reconcile them within one's own value system and sense of right and wrong.As with any true-to-life story, it is easy to sit in judgment on the actions of each of the narrators but the extreme emotions and strain they individually face is something that cannot be fully understood until one experiences it for oneself. Would you be willing to break the law to earn money to feed your child? What if you were forced to choose between your life or your child's life? How would you cope with the loss of a child? While readers might find the choices Robin, Erin, and Travis make repugnant, Ms. Chamberlain does an excellent job of reminding the reader how impossible it is to condemn someone without having been tested in a similar fashion.There are a few flaws in this poignant story of parental love is the rather confusing timeline in the beginning. It is not until about a third into the novel where the reader understands the jumps in time. In fact, the reader will find himself going back to the first chapter to reconfirm what happened there. Some readers may find this jump in time to be disconcerting, while others may find it a brilliant ploy at forcing the reader to reassess one's opinions of the characters as new information comes to light.The Good Father is one of those stories that makes one sit back and appreciate all the good in one's life, as it is a stark reminder of everything that can go wrong. While at times slightly schmaltzy, Ms. Chamberlain avoids being overly preachy, allowing readers to learn their own lessons. It is the ultimate feel-good novel.Acknowledgments: Thank you to NetGalley and to Harlequin for my e-galley!