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LONG GONE DADDY by Helen Hemphill


by Helen Hemphill

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 31st, 2006
ISBN: 1-932425-38-1
Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

It’s the dead body of his grandfather that Harlan sees on the porcelain table in the morgue where he lives and works to escape confrontation with his evangelistic preacher father, Harlan P. Never having seen Grandfather Harlan O before, Harlan Q decides to head home and see how the family will react. His pompous father (who refers to himself as we) is intrigued when Harlan Q makes a case for achieving greater glory to God if they drive Grandfather’s body to his home in Las Vegas to fulfill the terms of his will. The hook is that Harlan P will inherit enough to have his own radio ministry. While poking some fun at the extreme religiosity of Harlan P’s faith and other foibles, Hemphill nevertheless manages to create characters that fit into the Texas small-town atmosphere and the lively worldliness of Vegas. The road trip doesn’t go as planned, nor does the memorial service, but Harlan learns about himself and how much his father loves him along the way. Wryly funny, this first novel relies a bit too much on hillbilly diction and unusual events, but Hemphill is still a writer with promise. (Fiction. YA)