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Father Figure by Richard Peck
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Father Figure

by Richard Peck

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Originally published in 1978 some aspects of the book show its age. Jim is 17 and has been his younger brother Byron's father figure for eight years, since their parent's divorce when Byron was only months old. Their mother suffers from a terminal illness and commits suicide knowing there is no further medical treatments available. The boy's grandmother doesn't believe in expressing emotions, hence the boys' shut down and don't express their emotions. They are sent to Florida to stay with their father, a man they have only seen once since the divorce, at their mother's funeral. Jim and Byron begin to express their grief and to adapt to the new family dynamics.
  madhamster | Oct 22, 2008 |
Anthony Gonzales
EDCI 4120

Peck, R. (1978). Father Figure. New York: Penguin.

Grade Levels: 9-11
Category: realistic fiction
Read-Alouds: pp. 3-10 (Introduction to Jim and his mothers suicide) 52-58 (some conflict between Jim and his father), 145-150 (The change in Jims relation with his father)

Summary: This novel is about a teenager named Jim whose mother just committed suicide. His father was never in the lives of Jim or his younger brother Byron, which is until their mother passed away. Jim had a hard time adjusting to his father’s return into the family because since his father left, Jim was Byron’s “father figure”. Now that their father was in their lives again, Jim had to find a new place in the family; he had to be more of an older brother. He struggled, but the roles were flipped because it was Byron who had to help Jim accept what has happened and where they were. The family finally adjusts, and in the end, Jim finally has a father himself to look up too.

Themes: This story first teaches the importance of a father in a child’s life. I think that a teacher could use this novel to teach students the importance of not overreacting and not letting feelings of anger take over something such as the unconditional love of a father.

Discussion Questions: Do you think that Jim overreacted when his father came back?
Do you think that Jim acted appropriately at his mother’s funeral?
Do you thin that Byron could have done what he had to change Jim’s thoughts about his father?

Reader Response: I had a hard time relating to this novel. I have had to be a guardian to my younger brother, but my family has never separated. I have never had real fights with my family, and neither of my parents is divorced. I think that I best relate to Byron, when he is attempting to help his brother accept his father. I have been in a situation with a friend when something like his has happened; my friend was struggling to get along with his father. I had to help him get to accept his father into his life. ( )
  agonzal3 | Jun 22, 2008 |
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After being a father figure for years, Jim and his younger brother are reunited with their divorced father and Jim is forced to find a new role for himself.

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