A portrait of a unique family whose love overcomes odds.
Van Booy (Tales of Accidental Genius, 2015, etc.) opens with sweet scenes of a young girl. The toddler, Harvey, observes the world with wonder as her parents help her make sense of it all. Harvey has dolls and toys from McDonald’s and appears in most ways very well loved. There is a sense of foreboding about her growing older, however. By the chapter’s end, her parents are stunned that she is starting first grade. From there, we jump forward. Twenty years later, Harvey is anxiously waiting for her father’s arrival in Paris, where she now lives. She has prepared a Father’s Day gift for him, a box filled with objects to symbolize “some vital moment of their lives.” The final object will be the most important, freeing her father from a secret he's been keeping for 20 years. Alternating between past and present, the novel fills in the 20-year gap. Jason, the father who visits in Paris, is actually not Harvey's biological father but her uncle, who became her legal guardian after her parents died in a car accident. He's a recovering alcoholic with a criminal record and a prosthetic leg. They make for an odd pair at first; Jason abandons his tough-guy persona while young Harvey learns to play the drums from him and dreams of working at Jiffy Lube when she grows up. The tone often borders on the saccharine, and, though their relationship deepens, the characters don't. Despite this, there are moments of genuine emotion. Jason quits smoking for Harvey’s sake, but when he won’t share his nicotine gum, she's hurt. “That’s so selfish,” she says. “You never think about me.”
A sentimental story of the bond between father and child.