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After Dad by Ralph Cohen

After Dad

by Ralph Cohen

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The untimely passing of Frank Kovacek in 1966 leaves his wife Ruth a widow, two daughters, Jenny and Margot, and a son, Toby, fatherless. Ralph Cohen brings all these characters to life in their attempt to grow up to adolescence in the 1960's Southern California. Each chapter's written from a different angle. The adventures of Jenny and margot are written in the first person, Toby's struggles are written in the first person. You need to take notice of the superscriptions for each chapter to facilitate your understanding of the storyline. Sometimes I felt reading a coming of age, longing for a happy end, or a tragic suicide. At other times I really missed the reason for describing in much detail women fights, Toby's violent introduction in prison after being caught for 30 burglaries, or all the pranks Jenny and her roommates have brief encounters with.
The quality of writing in the novel After Dad is remarkable. From introducing many Dutch surnames, a little German in the last chapter set in World War II, in the Ardennes, the scenery in prison, coffee shops, dormatories and broken families. Jealous sisters testing boyfriends, a female teacher surprisingly popping up in unexpected places, and mental disorders with their raw and painful effects. Where you would hope for the best, all family members follow their dad in some kind of tragic course of life. ( )
  hjvanderklis | Jan 19, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0615942385, Paperback)

“He was always there for me,” Jenny Kovacek says in the opening of the novel After Dad, and indeed, her father is such a charismatic force in the family that despite his untimely passing, he continues to have a dynamic impact on his survivors. Set mostly in Southern California during the tumultuous 1960s, Ralph Cohen's debut novel tells the stories of the man’s three children and widow as they cope with their loss. Though missing, the father is never far from their minds, and during critical moments in their lives, he seems to reach out in various ways, from simple memories of touch and voice to artifacts left behind to a sense of his ongoing existence. How each of the family members responds to his lingering presence leads to results that are by turn comic, tragic and transformative. Two of the book's chapters appeared previously in literary magazines, The Connecticut Review and REAL.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 19 Jan 2016 15:32:15 -0500)

"He was always there for me," Jenny Kovacek say in the opening of the novel. After dad, and indeed, her father is such a charismatic force in the family that despite his untimely passing, he continues to have a dynamic impact on his survivors.

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