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Exploring what it means to be a father — good, bad and ugly — the subject of so many stories worth exploring – Chicago Tribune


Celebrate Father’s Day with books about the poignant relationship between a father and his children. The challenges, sacrifices and moments of growth fathers face are explored in these featured stories, which include a father-to-be’s reflections to the great lengths a father will go to protect his child at the end of the world, and more.

“The Seasons Quartet” by Karl Ove Knausgaard

“28 August. Now, as I write this, you know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into. And I know nothing about you…” In “The Seasons Quartet,” Karl Ove Knausgaard starts with a letter to his unborn daughter, showing her what to expect of the world. He follows it with one short piece per day throughout a year, describing the material and natural world, drawing upon memories of his childhood to give an inimitably tender perspective on the precious and unique bond between parent and child.

“One Last Thing Before I Go” by Jonathan Tropper

Drew Silver has begun to accept that life isn’t going to turn out as he expected. His fleeting fame as the drummer for a rock band is nearly a decade behind him and his Princeton-bound teenage daughter Casey has just confided in him that she’s pregnant — because Silver is the one she cares least about letting down. So, when Silver learns that he requires emergency life-saving heart surgery, he makes the radical decision to refuse the operation, choosing instead to spend what time he has left to repair his relationship with Casey, become a better man and live in the moment.

“The Loyal Son” by Daniel Mark Epstein

Ben Franklin is the most lovable of America’s founding fathers. His wit, his charm, his inventiveness — even his grandfatherly appearance — are legendary. But this image obscures the scandals that dogged him throughout his life. In “The Loyal Son,” award-winning historian Daniel Mark Epstein throws the spotlight on one of the darker episodes in Franklin’s biography: his complex and confounding relationship with his illegitimate son William.

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

“The Road” is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains in a ravaged America, but in which a father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. It is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

“Dad’s Maybe Book” by Tim O’Brien

In 2003, National Book Award-winning novelist Tim O’Brien resolved to give his young sons what he wished his father had given to him — a few scraps of paper signed “Love, Dad.” For the next 15 years, the author talked to his sons on paper, as if they were adults, imagining what they might want to hear from a father who was no longer among the living. O’Brien traverses the variety of human experience and emotion, moving from soccer games to warfare to risqué lullabies, but always returning to a father’s soul-saving love for his sons.

“Raising Raffi” by Keith Gessen

Written over the first five years of his child’s life, Gessen traces how the practical decisions one must make each day intersect with some of the weightiest concerns: How do you instill in your child a sense of his heritage without passing on that history’s darker sides? Is parental anger normal, possibly useful, or is it inevitably authoritarian and destructive? How do you get your kid to play sports? By turns hilarious and poignant, “Raising Raffi” is a story of what it means to invent the world anew.

“Your Presence is Mandatory” by Sasha Vasilyuk

In 1941, Yefim is a young artillerist on the border between Soviet Union and Germany, eager to defend his country and his large Jewish family against Hitler’s forces. But surviving the war requires sacrifices Yefim never imagined, and even when the war ends, his fight isn’t over. He must conceal his choices from the KGB and from his family. Spanning seven decades between World War II and the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, “Your Presence Is Mandatory” traces the effect Yefim’s cover-up had on the lives of his wife Nina, their two children and grandchildren.

Ashlee Conour is the marketing specialist at Naperville Public Library.

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