Family life with all its complexities is at the heart of The Good Father. Travis, as a single father, fiercely loves and protects his four-year-old daughter Bella, but what sets him apart from ordinary fathers is how the duo of Travis and Bella came to be. And how the challenges he faces fuel that protectiveness, bringing out his strengths.
Narrated in alternating voices, we learn the story of Travis and Robin, teens in love, who fought against the obstacles that prevented them from being a family with their daughter. We slowly come to know how the fissures developed between them; the lies that kept them apart; and the wondrous serendipity that brought them together again.
We watch Robin making a new life with a political family in Beaufort, helping her fiancé Dale with his aspirations; but then Dale’s teenage sister has a baby out of wedlock and these events bring the past into the forefront of Robin’s mind. Remembrances of the past begin to plague her, even as she gradually learns of some of Dale’s lies and deceptions. Reminders of the control exerted upon her and Travis years before reshape her attitudes about the false life she has been building.
We also come to know the other characters that helped to bring this story together, like Erin, whose daughter Carolyn drowned at Atlantic Beach two years before and who is struggling to deal with the loss. She is stunned by the pull she feels toward Bella when they meet accidentally one day. How their paths converge and take them on a dramatic journey tells us more about Erin’s story and how she is gradually coming to accept the things she cannot change.
The pacing of this story was spot on, with the plots and subplots woven together and gradually revealed in a way that kept me eagerly reading. I rooted for these characters and the strengths that helped them overcome their obstacles in spite of their vulnerabilities.
At the end of their journey, Travis describes what he is enjoying:
“I like living a normal life—you know, one of those lives where nothing dramatic happens. Where you’re part of a little family: dad, mom, child. You have a roof over your head and food on the table and your biggest problem is deciding whether to send your kid to kindergarten when she’s just turned five or give her another year of preschool….”
I applaud the author for giving us such wonderfully layered characters, and showing us how they achieved their hard won peace and normalcy; I enjoyed my time with them. Five stars.