LOVE, DAD by Evan Hunter
Kirkus Star


Email this review


That rocky horror show familiar to parents of the Sixties--loss of an adored child to an alien, dangerous life-style--is rerun here in Hunter's easy-driving pop manner. . . not for new depths or nuance, but for all those gut-punch recognitions. In 1968, successful, 40-ish photographer Jamie Croft decorates his Connecticut living room with photos of daughter Lissie for her 17th birthday (a family tradition); but by 1971 he will be writing to his only child: ""You may have your freedom from me. . . you are not welcome in my home and my life."" In the years between Jamie will suffer the anguish of loss--a process that begins when Lissie graduates from a hated prep school, savors her first joint, and is not accepted at her chosen college. Mother Connie, unliberated and impotently angry, is disappointed. But somehow Dad is at the root of what went wrong: ""there should have been something more"" from him. And, after the first unauthorized jaunts and the Woodstock epiphany, Lissie--often with tough, unreliable city kid Paul--takes the Sixties Grand Hip Tour: a flop in Trafalgar Square, Greece and the beaches, India, Afghanistan (wild-dog attacks), Iran (rape threats from a border official). Jamie, meanwhile, is predictably tormented--no letters, no calls, then cheerful (stoned) letters of dim plans and graceful lies--and finds distraction with talented, wise, and warm flutist Joanna. Then, on a snowy New Year's Eve, Lissie comes home, barefoot in a taxi. But Jamie's joy soon fades as he works at ""communicating"" with his daughter--who, even when raging venereal disease and foot infections are taken care of, is a dirty-looking, foul-mouthed, parent-zapping pain. And finally, after Lissie moves to Cambridge, Mass., to peddle her second-rate Indian goods and live with a black junkie, Jamie leaves Connie for Joanna-which infuriates Lissie, whose pals wind up wrecking Joanna's apartment: it's then that Jamie, fed up with abuse, writes his farewell ""Love, Dad"" letter. There's an implausible epilogue (Lissie has become a Bonwitsshopping matron married to a dentist), and Hunter's slick, sentimental approach to social-realism is no more impressive here than it's been in his last dozen ""straight"" novels (as opposed to the generally more effective Ed McBain mysteries). But the subject this time seems to suit the Hunter style better than anything since Blackboard Jungle--and this spin of parental Sixties laments brings it all back with grabbing immediacy, blowing an ill wind that a lot of readers will recognize all too well.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Crown