Title: After Dad
Author: Ralph Cohen
Published: 13th January 2014
Publisher: Tattersall Press
Many thanks to Ralph Cohen for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
This heart-wrenching story follows an American family in the 1960’s dealing with the sudden loss of husband and father, Frank Kovacek. A great void is left in the family and you see how widow Ruth and children Jenny, Margot and Toby continue to be influenced by Frank, such a powerful figure even in death.
‘What made it so hard was that the place looked like he’d just left it. The floor was covered with sawdust and wood shavings, and tools were scattered all over the place. There was even a long narrow board clamped to a sawhorse, as if he’d tightened it down only seconds ago. It was almost as if the room was holding its breath, just waiting for him to come back’
Hugely character driven, you see each family member’s personal journey and attempt to deal with grief. It’s written in such a way that you attach yourself to each character before you even realise it – I laughed, sobbed and prayed for the children in particular to go out there and make something of themselves. Cohen has brought these characters to life; I could feel the struggle with grief deep within the pages.
This book made me conscious of how precious memories are and I was confronted with this need to make sure I savour every moment I have with my family because we really don’t know how long we have. It’s outstanding that a book can hit you like this and make you connect with it so personally – Ralph Cohen really is a stunningly talented writer.
The end was haunting for me. I’d become really attached to Toby and I could feel how affected he was by the loss of his dad at such a young, impressionable age. His cheekiness had me. And his story broke my heart, to the point where I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days – powerful stuff.
I couldn’t even think about giving this anything less than 5 stars. Outstanding.