cover image Here Lies a Father

Here Lies a Father

Mckenzie Cassidy. Kaylie Jones, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-757-0

In Cassidy’s engrossing debut, a teenager in upstate New York makes a painful discovery about his late father. Ian Daly’s parents had been separated for six months before his father, Thomas, died. After Ian arrives from Wellbourne, N.Y., in his father’s hometown for the funeral, he learns his father had two previous families he never knew about. Ian’s relationship with Thomas had already been strained by Thomas’s drinking and long stretches away from home for temporary work at a series of vacation resorts, and as Ian meets various relatives and exes of his father, he’s disappointed his overtures toward them are met coldly. While he learns more about the dark history of his father’s treatment of his other families, Ian also deals with pressure from his best friend, Scott, and a beer-guzzling bully, Rick, to party and hook up with girls back home in Wellbourne. Boxing lessons help him find the strength and courage to make his own choices, though Cassidy’s treatment of the gym and the training leaves a bit to be desired. Still, the author convincingly depicts the ways his sensitive, turbulent protagonist navigates the murky period between adolescence and adulthood. Cassidy’s distinctive coming-of-age story will move readers. (Jan.)