Daddy - Danielle Steel

(No Series)

Oliver Watson's world suddenly dissolves around him when Sarah, his wife of eighteen years, returns to Harvard to get her master's degree. Oliver is left on his own, with three children and a freedom he never wanted and doesn't completely understand. His family's needs and demands suddenly consume his life.

When Oliver's mother is diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease and dies soon thereafter, Oliver's father's life is changed as well. Braver than his son with less of a future before him, George Watson, at seventy-two, quickly embraces new relationships and, eventually, a new life. The sudden changes come as a shock to both father and son.

Ben, Oliver's oldest son, rejects his father and reaches outward, under the illusion that he is grown-up and can make it on his own. Melissa, the middle child, blames Oliver for her mother's desertion. And Sam, the "baby," is too shaken to deal with it at all. Now the only parent, Daddy must somehow cope this, his troubled family and explore a world of new responsibilities, new women, and new experiences.

Each of the three men must start a new life: Oliver in New York and then in Los Angeles with his children; once he faces the biggest change in his life; his widowed father with the woman next door; and seventeen-year-old Ben with his girlfriend and baby. Nothing is as it was before... nothing is as they once thought it would be. But in the end, different is better... different is more... for each of them—and especially for "Daddy."

'Daddy' turned out to be a better experience that I anticipated. Not a big fan of lifetime movies or that sort, I was pleased to find this wasn't a melodramatic story that induced eye-rolling. Instead it was a very real drama with grief, trauma, and ultimate triumph over life's obstacles. The characters helped keep things afloat; the protagonist, "Daddy", "Oliver" was a man easy to understand. Even the woman who caused everyone conflict, Sarah, was written to be sympathetic in the beginning (sometimes.) Either way she was realistic at least, as were the kiddies and everyone else.

The pace for this sort of story - one that relies mainly on emotional change - was surprisingly quick. We start right at the beginning with the thoughts of abandonment brewing in Sarah's unhappy head, and by the third chapter everyone's life has been effectively turned upside down and gone topsy turvy.

The back cover blurb mentions three lives hanging in the wind here, but they doesn't grow confusing, as it mainly still leaned on Oliver's handling of their situations. I admit to crying when the mother died of an Alzheimer's related accident - something I hope to never grow through with a loved one. This family clearly had a rough patch but they were written in such a way that the reader genuinely cheered for them when things grew better. Staying through the ride of frustration and unhappiness was not easy, though, and during the book you may feel as drained as they are (which is what the author hopes to accomplish.)

On the negative side, Steel really needs - and hopefully has by now - to learn how to effectively head-hop. In one large paragraph she incorrectly switched from three people's points of view. Never is this allowed, as it's always confusing and just bad writing form. In this book, this even happens in the same sentence, one person's thoughts separated by another's by a mere comma mark!

And, although this may seem silly and wrong of me, Oliver is just too damn weepy. He's a great guy I enjoyed and rooted for, and I'm all for a man that sheds a tear when the situation warrants it, but I can't count on one hand how many times he switched on the waterworks. It's a small side issue, though, and of course didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book or affect it's rating. Still it was an unrealistic flaw that never helped the character. His sweet personality was endearing but sometimes I just wanted to grab him and yell, "Shake her, call her a rotten bitch, scream, something!"

Basically this book was good, so I see why Steel has made a name for herself. I remember wanting to read this when I was a pre-teen but for some reason or other my mother denied it. Oh well, parents can't make sense all the time right? Just like ones in this book. Give it a try if you want to weep a bit or are in the mood for some inspiring drama.

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