Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book Review: “The Father’s Tale: A Novel” by Michael O’Brien

This year of Our Lord 2011 has been a very challenging to our family. Among the many challenges we’ve faced was one very trying one, one which brought my dignity and my self-identity as a father into question.

To make the story short, the series of events left me thinking that I have failed as a father to one of my sons, that I was unsuccessful in handing down the faith, the way to live a Christian life, to hold on to a holy marriage, to respect the sacraments and the life of grace. Surely it was my fault that he had to look elsewhere for what I failed to give him.

Michael O’Brien’s book, The Father's Tale: A Novel , was brought to me as a healing balm, as just the medicine that the doctor ordered.

The Father's Tale: A Novel is the story of a man about my age, father of two sons like I am, and one of them went astray. The father, Alexander Graham by name, a reclusive widower and bookstore keeper, resigned to die. He left everything behind, his bucolic Canadian town, his shop, his friends, and his eldest son, starting a desperate race against time and distance to bring his youngest son, his stray lamb, back into the fold.

Spanning Great Britain, Finland, the entire length of Russia and beyond, Mr. O’Brien gives us a tour de force that includes music, poetry, revolution; as well as deepest darkness and incredible light. We see Alex Graham’s heart expand, then break, and then expand into greater love.

Two takeaways from this book, the first one a lesson taught also in several other books by Mr. O’Brien which I have read, and that is that the battle against evil is not going to be won by any human means at our disposal. No one knows can begin to image how the battle will be won, but it will be won. In fact, it has been won already.

The second lesson reminds me of words spoken by the Francis character in Brother Sun, Sister Moon: there no more sons, there are no more fathers. But Alex Graham went deeper into his meditation, discovering that fathers will become sons and sons, fathers and above all of them, Our Father who is in heaven.

My father passed recently and I realized that I never told him directly that I loved him, and in my own ruminations I found out that, although I knew I loved God the Father, and He knew too, I never did in fact, ever told God that I love Him. For the first time in a long time, the images of both fatherhoods, that of my father, and that of my God, fused. I finally found the Source of the stream, from which all fatherhood in heaven and on earth take the name and before Whom I bend the knee.

The Father's Tale: A Novel did that for me and also reassured me that everything will be alright, everything will turn out alright. God our Father will see to it, and what I have handed down to my son s will endure.

If this book brought me to these realizations, imagine what it could do for you!

There is more, but I will not tell you anything more. I want you to find out. Read The Father's Tale: A Novel .