Book Reviews

Book Review: Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait

Book Review Our Fathers Rebecca Wait

Tom is eight years old when his father shoots his mother, his older brother, and his baby sister before turning the gun on himself. The little community on the island of Litta is in shock because, by all accounts, John was “a good man”. Tommy is taken in by his uncle and his wife but leaves the island in his teenage years, never wanting to return. But no matter how much we want to escape our pasts, sometimes, we have to return. Tom tunes up unannounced in his thirties to try and understand what happened those years ago in a bid to understand himself.

What possesses a man to murder his family and then take his own life? What happens when only one of the children survives? Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait is a touching and chilling look at fathers and sons and violence in families. It explores the violence unseen by others – emotional abuse, control, gaslighting. It shows the heartbreaking impact on those left behind. Is it nature or nurture? And can we ever escape our pasts?

I read Wait’s debut novel many years ago & loved it. That book explored depression & the impact of suicide. It appears she doesn’t shy away from important topics and writes with a sensitivity that leaves the reader in tears. She explores Tom’s guilt at surviving and trying to make sense of his memories, his uncle’s guilt for not noticing his own brother’s violence, how society justifies men’s behaviour. The violence is triggering at some parts because it’s how he controls his family without raising his voice or hand. The setting is just as haunting and a perfect backdrop for the story. Wait is an underrated author. Go pick up her books now!

The past was a story we told ourselves.

Rebecca Wait, Our Fathers, p. 151

Life was a hard struggle, a long dark night, and we had best be thankful for those left to us to love.

Rebecca Wait, Our Fathers, p. 332

My rating:

Book details:

PublisherRiverrun Books
Publication Date2020

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