Summary and book reviews of The Good Father by Noah Hawley

The Good Father

A Novel

by Noah Hawley

The Good Father
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2013, 320 pages

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Book Summary

An intense, psychological novel about one doctor's suspense-filled quest to unlock the mind of a suspected political assassin: his twenty-year old son.

As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons - hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin.

Daniel Allen has always been a good kid - a decent student, popular - but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.

Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities - and limitations - of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.

One
Home

Thursday night was pizza night in the Allen household. My last appointment of the day was scheduled for eleven a.m., and at three o'clock I would ride the train home to Westport, thumbing through patient charts and returning phone calls. I liked to watch the city recede, the brick buildings of the Bronx falling away on the side of the tracks. Trees sprang up slowly, sunlight bursting forth in triumph, like cheers at the end of a long, oppressive regime. The canyon became a valley. The valley became a field. Riding the train I felt myself expand, as if I had escaped a fate I thought inevitable. It was odd to me, having grown up in New York City, a child of concrete and asphalt. But over the decades I had found the right angles and constant siren blare to be crushing. So ten years earlier I had moved my family to Westport, Connecticut, where we became a suburban family with suburban family hopes and dreams.

I was a rheumatologist - the chief of rheumatology at Columbia ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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With 23 out of 24 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Noah Hawley's The Good Father is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:

I used to think it was overkill to describe any product, book, or movie with a bunch of grandiose adjectives, but The Good Father deserves them. Spellbinding, engaging, thought-provoking, riveting, mesmerizing, addicting, intriguing! Noah Hawley's writing is fluid and descriptive, his characters are enriching, and the plot and scenery are alluring... (Kimberly B). A book that pulled me in from the first page, The Good Father is a work that is both wholly mesmerizing and utterly disturbing (Beth K). Since finishing, I've spent some time reflecting on the subject; it's not one you soon forget. Bordering on profound; definitely captivating (Avid). This book was so well paced, well researched, and well written that I will read anything that Hawley ever writes again... What a treat this was (Erica M).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

This story of guilt and love by Hawley, both a novelist and a screenwriter/producer (he was responsible for Bones), should do especially well with book clubs.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review... Hawley's complicated protagonist is a fully fathomed and beautifully realized character whose emotional growth never slows a narrative that races toward a satisfying and touching conclusion.

Kirkus Reviews

The novel ultimately becomes as much about a father's quest for meaning and understanding as about a son's political and social alienation - and Hawley delivers on the complex psychology of father-son relationships.

Reader Reviews

avid

Worth reading
A good psychological study of a dad whose son is accused of killing a popular political figure. It kept me reading, although it didn't really go in the direction I was expecting. Since finishing, I've really spent some time reflecting on the ...   Read More

Tillie H. (Baltimore, MD)

Compelling
This is a compelling novel about a father whose son has been accused of murdering the next president. The book is very well written and shows how the father believes in the son's innocence no matter what the media says. His journey through process ...   Read More

Jinny K. (Fremont, CA)

The Good Father
Compelling and tragic tale of a devoted father's quest to find the answer to his son's inexplicable murderous act. He traces his son's actions over the last few years, agonizes over every moment of his childhood and researches murders of public ...   Read More

Elinor M. (Roswell, NM)

The Good Father
This is definitely a novel that captures your interest from the start. Hawley exhibits a remarkable style of writing that places the reader clearly in the mind of both father and son. One can feel the tug of guilt in the father as his relentless ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Parents of Young Killers

Parents of young adults who are accused of murder are confronted with an intense emotional minefield and have, in many cases, reported experiencing feelings ranging from guilt and shame to horror and despair. Susan Klebold, whose son Dylan, alongside classmate Eric Harris, carried out the massacre of 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999 has stated, "For the rest of my life, I will be haunted by the horror and anguish Dylan caused... Dylan changed everything I believed about myself, about God, about family, and about love." Susan Klebold's description of raising her son, how she learned about the atrocities perpetrated by her offspring, and her intense and crippling battle with depression and guilt in the aftermath, make the ...

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