An intense, psychological novel about one doctor's suspense-filled quest to unlock the mind of a suspected political assassin: his twenty-year old son.
As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons — hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin.
Daniel Allen has always been a good kid — a decent student, popular — but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.
Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities — and limitations — of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.
The Good Father by Noah Hawley recreates one of the worst nightmares for a parent. A young man - little more than a boy - is accused of shooting and killing a presidential candidate. His father, a successful doctor, is convinced his son Danny is innocent. The boy he raised cannot possibly hurt another human being. Yet, his son is arrested and put on trial. Proving his innocence becomes Dr. Allen's quest, obsession, and singular goal in life. He collects information, looks at every detail of his son's life, asks himself the horrible question: what did I do wrong? What lead my boy on the path that ended with a gunshot? In the book, his agony is much worse than what the son, the accused murderer, is going through.
Dr. Allen has divorced Danny's mother years ago, and has another family and a successful career. Although it is clear that not every child of divorce turns to violence, Dr Allen cannot help but blame himself for his son's mistakes. He finds it impossible to reconcile the son he knows with the criminal the world sees. His mission to uncover the truth will take him on a long journey - emotional, moral, and literal. The truth remains hidden in plain sight until the very end.
Mr. Hawley has penned a powerful book about parents and children, crime and punishment, responsibility and what ifs that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.
The Good Father was published last month by Doubleday.
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