Recently, I found myself bookless. This is a problem that I don’t encounter very often, but when I do, it is a source of great anxiety. Panicked, I immediately began browsing some of those “Best Books of 2013” lists, which is where I discovered Diane Chamberlain’s Necessary Lies. I loved this book – Chamberlain has a great authorial voice and I was genuinely invested in her characters. To my delight, this woman has written a whole slew of books, meaning that I could now go on an author binge that has only been paralleled by my Netflix habits. The Good Father was my next Chamberlain choice, and, predictably, it fell short of my expectations.
Travis Brown is a 23-year-old single father to Bella, who is four. Or three. Somewhere in there. Anyway, things are not looking good for Travis: his house just burnt down, his mom died, and he’s broke as a joke. His prospects seem to be improving, though, when he is offered some quick and easy money. All he has to do is drive a truck full of alleged baby formula to make a delivery. Sounds legit.
Meanwhile, Travis’ baby mama has started a whole new life in the nearby town of Beaufort. Robin has a fancy new fiancé with a ritzy family. Robin had a heart transplant shortly after giving birth to and giving up her daughter, and has done everything possible to forget the life she left behind. However, when her teenage, soon-to-be-sister-in-law has a baby girl of her own, Robin’s past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance.
Then there is another story going on with some woman named Erin who lost her young daughter and, while grieving in a coffee shop, randomly ends up babysitting Bella.
The most annoying aspect of The Good Father is the tidy, happy ending. That was an issue with Necessary Lies, too, but the conclusion at least seemed more probable in that situation. I’m somewhat concerned that all of Chamberlain’s novels will end this way. Her characters typically feel reasonably true-to-life, but the novels’ endings just do not correspond – there is no way that everything could be so neatly resolved for these people.
For instance, not only do Travis and Robin end up back together after almost 5 years of separation on somewhat bad terms, but Travis decides to go to college to pursue his dream of becoming a Marine Biologist. A MARINE BIOLOGIST. That’s right – Travis decides to pursue the dream job of every middle schooler out there. *Vomit*
The Good Father is by no means awful, but there’s too much saccharine and not enough reality.