My Father's Words

My Father's Words
Age Range
Release Date
October 02, 2018
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Declan O’Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was "Dona Nobis Pacem," “Grant Us Peace.” His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return.

But a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O’Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief?

At the suggestion of their friend Luke, Fiona and Finn volunteer at an animal rescue shelter where they meet two sweet dogs who are in need of comfort, too. Perhaps with time, patience, and their father’s gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more.

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1 review
Building Memories after a Death
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
When Fiona and Finn's father, a psychologist, is killed in a car accident, the children and their mother (who is getting a degree in something "between philosophy, dance and making brushed wool dolls for preschoolers) have a hard time dealing with everything. One of the father's patients, a young man named Thomas, asks if he can call every Monday at 6:50 to give Finn a pleasant memory of his father. Also trying to help is Finn's neighbor, Luke, who suggests that they visit shelter dogs to read to them. Eventually, the family adopts a dog, Jenny. This helps a little, and the family slowly creates a new version of normal for themselves.
Good Points
Like MacLachlan's recent works (Jubilee, The Poets's Dog, Just Dance), this is a brief, poetic book with a simple and affecting story. The print is large, and the books seem perfect for classroom or betime read alouds by caring adults who can help young readers process the sadness in the lives of the characters. In this case, the book is a very personal one-- MacLachlan had a similar experience with a patient of her psychologist husband's who continues to talk to her after her husband's death.

There's no shortage of middle grade literature dealing with the death of one or both parents, but this is a gentle book to address the younger end of the spectrum which might not be ready for longer books like Erica S. All Three Stooges, Stevens' The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley or Gephart's Death by Toilet Paper.
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