Here Lies a Father
By: McKenzie Cassidy - Akashic Books, $15.95
Description: When Ian Daly and his sister Catherine arrive for their wayward fathers funeral in his small and desolate upstate New York hometown, a secret that was kept from them their entire lives emerges: their father Thomas abandoned two other families, leaving behind two furious wives and several children who never knew their father.
Ian wants to know more of the truth, but his sister and mother want to preserve the carefully constructed myth they have created around who Thomas really was.
In the cold, lonely winter landscape of small-town New York, fifteen-year-old Ian sets out alone to learn the truth about his fathers past and the families he left behind.
Here Lies a Father examines the long-term effects shameful secrets have on a family, and how difficult it is for a young man to reconstruct his own sense of right and wrong, when every value and moral principle he was ever taught was based on a lie.
Verdict: In what is a rather compelling read from start to finish (256 pages), Here Lies a Father is the debut novel from a writer bound (unintentional, sorry) for great things, McKenzie Cassidy.
Opening with quotes from both Neil Young and Cat Stevens, from the very off you become invested in Ian, himself the genuine heart and soul of this book.
A coming of age story chock full of family secrets and poisonous lies, what Cassidy manages to do is perfectly capture all the wonder and confusion of a teens rites of passage through the world; and, moreover, the truth about his parents and the cloudy mystery of his/their past.
Thinking back, there had been so many signs, clues that for a less gullible person would have shown the man behind the curtain pulling the strings, but I either failed to notice or was not able to, Ian states, which to my mind either makes him head and shoulders above his young age in maturity, or someone of his age just beaten down by life, and yet not willing to admit defeat.
Either way, Ian is wise above his years and for that, the storyline and subsequent plot lines are all the more plump. As he accompanies his older sister to his fathers funeral they immediately discover that their lauded fathers first wife is also in attendance.
With more shock and twists aplenty to follow though, that does not even come close to being the most eye-opening. Whilst staying at his aunts house for the weekend, Ian flashes us back to times in his young life where things either went very well for him, or ended in complete disaster, whilst at all times delivering them with a dry wit and droll sense of humor.
Set amongst the scenery of a blue collar upstate New York neighborhood, Ian wrestles with the flashbacks, trying to make sense of some now his father has gone and the odd bits and pieces of life that now seem to permutate his young life.
Equally balanced by both beauty and sadness, Here Lies a Father is amass with some truly exquisitely crafted sentences, detailing perfectly Ians surroundings, what he wears, his insecurities, his sexuality and oh-so much more.
In conclusion, Here Lies a Father is a fantastic, page-turning read, chock full of surprises and deeply manifesting home truths and their layered meanings, and so clearly points to the fact that even after just the one book, McKenzie Cassidy has hit a literary home run.
McKenzie Cassidy is a writer, journalist, marketer, and professor living in Fort Myers, Florida. His work has appeared in the anthology Walk Hand in Hand into Extinction: Stories Inspired by True Detective, Flash Fiction Magazine, Florida Weekly, and in multiple newspapers throughout southwest Florida.
He holds an MFA from Wilkes University and is a regular blogger for the Florida Writers Association. Here Lies a Father is his first novel. Learn more at www.MckenzieCassidy.com.
Official Book Purchase Link