After Dad ~ Ralph Cohen

Date Completed: 1/6/15

Rating: 7.5/10

This book was totally engrossing. My mind is still reeling over whether or not this was a good story, but I believe the answer is that it is not good for any of the characters, but that the story itself is important. More about that in a moment; to understand this book you must first hear about the layout.

The layout was rather odd. The first two chapters were written before Dad, the rest of the chapters written after Dad. All of the female voices were written in first person; the male voices were written in third person. And I found it odd that one of the funerary directors was given a voice for just one chapter.

Now, the story takes us through how the life of each family member is affected by their Dad’s passing. It all is very sad and melancholy. Just when life seems as if it might get better, one of them runs into a tragic event that left me feeling very unsettled and sad. A happy ending was certainly not handed to the reader on a silver platter in this book.

Cohen’s writing was seamless, and the flow of the story really captivated me. I took notice of the first person/third person differences, but they didn’t disrupt my reading of the story. Despite this being such a sad and at times difficult book to read, the story was very well written. I felt intricately attached to each character, as if I were their best friend that they’d shared all their secrets to and only I understood their side of the story, even while watching their other family members tear them apart for their actions. This book seems like magnificent social commentary on how family members treat one another and what we choose to share with each other.

This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. It deals with themes of rape culture and sexual violence, prison (juvie) culture, depression (and other mental health issues), and death. There’s a lot going on here. I’m not sure I quite realized what I’d be reading when I began this book, but it left me with a lot to think about. It definitely made me uncomfortable, but I respect that as part of a learning process within myself.

One thing that really sticks out to me about this book is that I’m still thinking about and concerned for the characters. This book doesn’t tie up loose ends really, except for the nondescript last chapter. Much is left up to the speculation of the reader. If you like nitty gritty books about everyday life that leave a lot open, you may also find yourself quite captivated by this book.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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