Tag Archives: father

Volunteer Reader Review

In Between Dreams by Iman Verjee

Iman Verjee gets full points for bravery. She chooses to tackle an extraordinarily difficult – if not impossible – topic for her debut novel: a romantic and physical affair between a young teenage girl and her father. Once this topic is revealed in the book’s opening chapters (of course, it’s nowhere to be found on the jacket copy), I felt an immediate

In Between Dreams by Iman Verjee

In Between Dreams by Iman Verjee

sense of revulsion – but also intrigue, to see how the author would pull it off. So I found the book oddly compelling and read it very quickly.

It’s a brave book. Verjee’s topic is so taboo, and I imagine that in writing she aimed to begin a public discourse – so that those who had similar experiences, being abused as children by their parents, might be able to come forward without shame, to speak about what they silently endured. Which is a worthy and important goal.

Unfortunately, I found that the execution of the book was lacking. I was hoping for some serious psychological insight from the daughter’s perspective in particular, but instead felt curiously removed from the story. Verjee takes care to present both perspectives, creating a father character who we almost feel pity for, even as we (the audience) abhor his actions. But we’re held at arms length from James and from his daughter, Frances.

I most noticed the book’s lack of polish in its dialogue, which often falls flat. A sample conversation, from when France’s biological mother is leaving James:

She paused and he saw a glimmer of something at the edges of her eyes but it went away just as quickly. “I owe it to myself to go and try out for this part. ‘I’m still young – I have my whole life ahead of me.’ When that explanation didn’t suffice, she continued, ‘I just need some [sic] to sort things out, to get myself back to normal, then I’ll come back and we can figure this all out.’ But they both knew that once she walked out of the door, she was never coming back. ‘Besides, she’s your daughter too’.

‘So you’re just going to run off? Become an actress?’ He had to laugh. ‘You know that’s not going to happen. Especially with the way you look like right now.’

In short: the characters over explain, all speak in the same tone, and there’s little subtlety. Similarly, I found France’s development as the book progressed lacking. There is a fantastic moment where she chooses not to act on a crush she feels on a man at her boarding school who has a wife and family of his own, to not wreck it, in some sort of wonderfully subtly recognition of what appropriate boundaries are and that she might not actually know and how her actions could destroy others. I wanted more of that.

I’m afraid this book has a very small audience. It’s subject matter will disqualify it from many readers automatically, I think, and those that are willing to read about a father and daughter and their coercive physical relationship need it to be a truly remarkable book in order to make that journey worth it. Or I did, at least. And while I found it to be compelling, I didn’t find it to be remarkable. I was asking a lot of it, I know, but I also think that the subject matter demands a lot.

Reviewed by Kelsey Attard

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Volunteer Reader Review

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk had my undivided attention from the first page. This novel is about a father (Eldon) and son (Frank), who try to make a connection with each other during the last few days of Eldon’s life. Eldon, an alcoholic and an absentee father, feels compelled to explain to his son why his like took the direction it did. The great reveal takes place in a majestic outdoor setting.

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Throughout this novel the author describes beautifully the wilderness and the impact it has on Frank’s life and well being. The words were so powerful I wanted to jump into my vehicle and heads to the hills to enjoy the peace and quiet that Richard leads me to believe is there. Far from the oasis spa bathrooms that all of us seem to have in our homes today.

The author does an outstanding job in capturing the emotions of all the characters in the story, in particular Frank’s. Frank’s feelings for his father are like a roller coaster ride, and for good reason. No one appreciates broken promises and abandonment. In the end questions are answered and lives are at peace.

This novel delves into the complexities of relationships and the impact events in one’s life can have on those relationships, both good and bad. It also draws awareness to the healing power of nature and its beauty which is freely available for all of us to enjoy.

Reviewed by: Petra Mandock

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