Top Ten Tuesday: Most Interesting Father-Child Relationships In Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! Much like a month back when we looked at mother relationships for Mother's Day, now we're looking at father relationships for Father's Day. I broadened it out to general father-child relationships for this one because I immediately thought of books I wanted to include that had relationships with both genders as children. Some of these are good relationships, some bad, but all of them compelling (to me anyways). 





To Kill A Mockingbird: Can you make a list on this subject without highlighting Atticus and Scout? I haven't read Go Set a Watchman so I'm pretending it doesn't exist and that Atticus can go on being the A+ human I learned about in sophomore English.

The Descendants: I enjoyed the movie and decided to pick up the book, which I enjoyed even more. When his estranged wife ends up comatose after an accident, Matthew finds himself suddenly solely responsible for the two daughters he's been only partially involved with during their childhoods and the way the three begin to actually bond, with wariness and scars but also hope, is really lovely.

The Shining: The movie, while a favorite of mine, skimps on the complicated father-son dynamic between Jack and Danny. Raised by a brutal man, Jack struggles to bring up Danny with more tenderness without really knowing how to go about doing that, and his feelings about his alcoholism are much more explicitly tied to the injury he inflicted on his toddler in a drunken rage than they are in the movie.

The Cider House Rules: This is a surrogate rather than biological relationship, but the bond between Wilbur and Homer is beautifully drawn, and Homer's struggle to define himself against his paternal figure is one of the central narrative threads.

The Namesake: When an Indian immigrant to America names his son Gogol after his favorite author, it comes to symbolize all the conflicts and tension between a father and son who love each other but don't really understand each other.

The Other Boleyn Girl: A very different look at parenthood, Thomas Boleyn sees his daughters Mary and Anne as pawns in his power games rather than people with thoughts and feelings. Of the two, Anne takes most after his ruthlessness and we all know how things ended up for her.

Sabriel: The first book in this series focuses on the love between a father and his daughter, the titular heroine, whose search for him drives the action and leads her to her destiny.

A Feast For Crows: Tywin Lannister is a pretty awful parent to all of his children, really: marrying off Cersei to Drunken Lout Robert Baratheon despite her pleas to not, trying to manipulate son Jaime into giving up his chosen profession so he can come be the heir, and refusing to see that second son Tyrion is the smartest of all of his children. I picked this particular entry because the way Tywin goes out is AMAZING.

The Return of the King: Even though it's only a side story, Faramir's desire to prove himself to his father, and his father's idolization of the fallen Boromir and refusal to see the better man that Faramir is, is heartbreaking.

The Little House on the Prairie: Here's the thing about this whole series, really. Laura hero-worships the shit out of her dad, and so when you're reading them as a kid you just buy into that, but when you think about it as an adult, Pa was the WORST. Ma does like 1000% of the work and Pa gets all the glory and that is definitely a very real parental dynamic.

8 comments

  1. Great list - the relationship between Tywin and his kids is so dysfunctional and they're all so messed up because of it, it makes all their interactions so interesting! Same with Faramir and Denethor!

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    1. The various ways in which Tywin has screwed his kids up (and the ways they take their frustrations out on each other) are some of my favorite parts of ASOIF. I always end up recommending this series because of the characters as much as anything else

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    1. I love their bond so much I'm almost afraid to read Go Set A Watchman because I don't want to have to go through that adult disillusionment with a parent phase with them

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  3. I agree with you on The Shining. That’s an intense parent-child relationship right there. I need to read a Jhumpa Lahiri novel. I’ve only read her short stories, and I really liked them. Great list!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I have her story collection but haven't read it yet, but after reading The Namesake, I'll read anything she writes because that book is amazing

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  4. Great list! Atticus ad Scout made my list this week, too, and Sabriel and her father only just missed out on a spot - I remember really enjoying the father-daughter element to Sabriel when I was younger and it stayed with me. And poor Faramir! I hate the way his father treats him, he's such a sweetie.

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    1. Faramir's story just breaks my heart in Return of the King. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who loved the father-daughter element to Sabriel, because I thought that was really well done :)

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