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HERE LIES A FATHER by Mckenzie Cassidy


by Mckenzie Cassidy

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-61775-757-0
Publisher: Kaylie Jones/Akashic

Fifteen-year-old Ian Daly is a curious combination of hard-bitten adolescent and walking blind spot, a naïve old soul who knows too much and not nearly enough.

Ian makes a compelling narrator, the heart and soul of Cassidy’s debut novel. In a sense, he’s so self-aware that he comes to realize he isn’t: “Thinking back, there had been so many signs, clues that for a less gullible person would’ve shown the man behind the curtain pulling the strings, but I either failed to notice or wasn’t able to.” In Ian’s defense, he comes from a family of adept string-pullers. As the novel begins, he accompanies his older sister to his father’s funeral, where they’re stunned to learn about the old man’s first wife. And there are more shocks to come. Staying at his aunt’s house for the weekend, Ian takes us tripping through one adeptly arranged flashback after another, using a dry sense of humor to make sense of a deceit-laden life. Was his dad really trying to find a killer job, or was he drinking away his life with women not his wives? Did Ian’s mom really not know what was going on, or was she lying to her son all along? Cassidy keeps such questions bubbling beneath the surface of the novel and Ian’s consciousness; as the boy slowly figures things out, we feel bilked for him. The novel’s vivid upstate New York universe of blue-collar neighborhoods gives Ian’s surroundings a heavy coat of realism, as do the insecurities, sexual and otherwise, suffered by Ian and his few friends. Ian is a worthy literary cousin of Holden Caulfield, another kid with little tolerance for fakes and phonies and too much hard-won skepticism for his age. The grown-ups have let Ian down; now he must create himself.

An adolescent faces his family of liars with a spirit reminiscent of Holden Caulfield.