“I abandoned her. It’s the one capital crime of fatherhood. Mothers can fail a thousand different ways. A father’s only job is: do not abandon this child.” – Catherynne M. Valente
This is one of those books that kept making me wonder what it would look like as a movie. Who would play Hawley, who could possibly play Loo? But really I hope they don’t make this a movie, because it’s too good, and like most books made into movies I hope people pick up the book rather than waiting for a movie.
I also like to keep books like these a secret, and when they make them into movies everyone knows about them, and they don’t feel like a secret anymore.
I gobbled this book up in three days. It was just marvelous. Loo has officially made my list of awesome female characters in literature 2017.
Loo is raised by her father. She is taught to shoot and she is taught to run. Her mother died when she was a baby. She drowned in a lake. That is all Loo knows about her mother, except for the few possessions and photos Loo’s father Hawley sets up in the bathroom of whatever motel they happen to be staying in. Loo enjoys her life on the road, but there are secrets, and Hawley is inscrutable. When Loo is twelve Hawley takes Loo to a small town in Massachusetts where her mother grew up and where her grandma still lives. They settle down in a small house. Hawley starts to fish. Loo goes to high school. Loo doesn’t make friends easily, and finds violence a more accessible way to deal with the people who bother her. One particular boy, Marshall, gets his fingers broken. Marshall never really leaves Loo alone though, despite the fingers, and as they get older their relationship becomes more romantic. After five years, Loo feels more settled, but Hawley still has secrets. Secrets that keep him closed off from her, and she wants to know what he’s been keeping from her all this time.
Marshall and Loo’s budding relationship was darling. There’s no other word for it, I even checked the thesaurus!
This story was written in alternating chapters between the past and present. The past was told through the bullets Hawley had been shot with. It starts with the first and works towards the twelfth. It was a clever way of telling Hawley’s story. I’m not giving too much away by saying we get to see how Hawley and Loo’s mother Lily meet, and how Lily dies…
If this had been a movie I would have bawled my eyes out.
Now the most important aspect of this book, of course, is the father daughter relationship. I’m not the person that thinks awwww look at that man raising that child all by himself. That is so cute. He’s such a good man… I’m not that person, because for real people women do that all the fudging time! Hawley was a very flawed man. But he raised Loo by himself for a while. He took her all over the country, and she got an education like not many other kids do. Was Loo better off living like this? That’s an impossible question. Loo was who she was. There are always an infinite number of choices we make that shape our lives, so Loo was a little girl raised by her criminal father and taught to shoot when she was twelve. She was unique. Hawley did a good job, and she loved him, and he was in her blood, and she was in his blood, and he was her father, and they loved each other. That’s what a parent has to do: love their child.
I love this kind of book! LOVE IT! She Rides Shotgun comes out in June, and the premise is similar, and I absolutely can’t wait to read it