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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Council of Dads An Honest Yet Tender Ode to Fatherhood

(Image from Indiebound)

Since it's June, the month when we formally celebrate fathers, I think now's a good time to do a little bragging. See, I happen to have an incredible dad. Also, an amazing husband. And a wonderful father-in-law. Add in some pretty awesome brothers, brothers-in-law, uncles, uncles-in-law, cousins, etc. and you start to see my point - I'm surrounded by men who take their responsibilities as fathers very seriously. Not only do they love their children, but they prove it every day by talking to them, listening to them, playing with them, encouraging them, supporting them, teaching them and, most of all, giving them a solid example to follow. In a world as turbulent as ours, this is no small thing.
Considering the powerful influence of fathers, it's no wonder writer Bruce Feiler panicked when he discovered he might not be around to nurture his children into adulthood. One of his first thoughts upon learning he had a rare, aggressive form of bone cancer was of his twin daughters. Who would teach them, support them, father them if he wasn't around? They had a kind, loving mother to guide them, but what about a strong male influence? If Feiler died, who could the girls turn to when they needed a man's perspective?
As Feiler began fighting his disease with surgery and chemo, he set about forming a support group - not for himself, but for his daughters. This Council of Dads included men from all stages of Feiler's life, men he loved, men he respected, men who knew Feiler well enough to bring him to "life" for his girls in the event of Feiler's death. Each member of the council brought different philosophies, different lessons to the table, lessons Feiler wanted his children to hear. The formation of this intimate club turned into a profound experience, one that strengthened Feiler in his time of need and convinced him that, whatever happened, his children would be in good hands.
The Council of Dads chronicles the year cancer stormed into Feiler's life, changing him forever. In candid, but tender prose, he talks about family, friendship, fatherhood and the frailty of life. As he muses over the lessons he collected from the men in his life, adding what he's learned along the way, Feiler offers a warm, hopeful view of the world to the daughters he's terrified of leaving behind. The advice he offers them will resound with anyone who desires to live a fuller, more courageous life. His own life lesson, the one he learns from battling a devastating, soul-sucking disease, reminds us all of what's really important. With humor and a whole lot of heart, Feiler proves not only why fatherhood matters, but why it is, in fact, crucial for all children. While the book's a little too edgy for me to pass out to the fathers in my life, I still found it touching. I'd recommend it for tender-hearted dads who don't mind a little color in their inspirational reading. I'd also recommend having a tissue handy. Maybe two.
Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
Grade: B
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language (2 F-bombs, plus occasional, milder expletives), and vague sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Council of Dads from the generous folks at Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours, for whom this review was written.


  1. I had a wonderful dad too and wrote a book in his memory without the bad language. It is emotional, funny and touching. Just a story of love between a father and daughter.

    This one sounds interesting in that I'm curious as to what kinds of things he would like his daughters to learn.

  2. What a great book for this month! I hadn't head about it before now but just reading what it's about had be tearing up a little.

  3. I'm not really into non-fiction or memoirs. I think it's because I had a bad experience with several and I just have a bad taste in my mouth. However, the males in your family(s) seem wonderful and I'm highly intrigued by the synopsis of this book.

    I come from a family of eleven children and my father, while he always provided for us monetarily, was never really there emotionally. He was a grumpy, angry father. And while I know he had a lot to deal with, it's one of those things children will never understand. On a happier note, my husband is a fabulous father and my father is a better grandfather than he was a father. But, oh well, life is what it is. :D

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  4. Karen - I love books about fathers - they're so important and the good ones never seem to get enough appreciation.

    Jenny - Well, if the review has you tearing up, you better stock up on the Kleenex before you read this one!

    Jen - The males in my family really are wonderful. Not perfect, of course, but good men, husbands and fathers. It's a real blessing for me and for my kids to have them in our lives.

    It's easy to take good, kind, involved fathers for granted. It's only as I've gotten older that I've realized how lucky I am to have a dad like mine. Not everyone is as lucky, unfortunately.

  5. I think I want to read it. I might bawl my eyes out though. It would be interesting I think to see how this father dealth with things knowing that he might pass away soon. My dad died very suddenly and it was a huge shocker, and I wonder what it was like for this man and his family to know he most likely wasn't going to make it.

  6. Fathers ARE vitally important to children, so I'm really excited to read this one and see how the author handled everything.

    Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for being on the tour.

  7. I got goosebumps reading this post, it made me think of my father. Sounds like a good book.


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