Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: Dear Dad, It’s Over

By Kathryn Hamilton

Many of us have had the gut-wrenching task of breaking off ties with someone we love, but with who we have a toxic and unhealthy relationship. Imagine how you would feel if that person were your parent. M. Dickson begins with her “Dear Dad” letter saying goodbye and then poignantly takes the reader through the events that made her ultimately make what is perhaps the most difficult decision of her young adult life.

M. Dickson is a successful stand-up comic known for her sharp wit. “Dear Dad, It’s Over” is a memoir that takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey where the author experiences disappointment after disappointment and outlines one young woman’s experiences with her father after her parents’ divorce. For someone, such as myself, whose parents are still together and whose closest friends also come from intact parental relationships, this memoir comes as a real eye-opener. The author has a style of writing that allows the reader to feel every emotion she experienced. This allows the reader to feel a great deal of empathy, but you do not at any time pity this strong woman. As a memoir, by nature, the reader never gets to understand the father’s thinking and motivation (which is frustrating for someone like me who always wants to know “why”). Being the daughter, M. Dickson was equally kept in the dark, although was able to surmise her father’s reasoning in some circumstances. While the intention was not to vilify her father, I could not help but want to smack him around and tell him to wake up to what he was doing.

M. Dickson writes in a way that makes the reader feel she is confiding in a friend. The prose flows smoothly and while she is articulate, the language is not pompous. Although at just over 100 pages it is a quick read, this is a book that stays with you long after you’ve closed the cover. I sincerely hope that all parents who divorce read this book as a cautionary tale. No child should ever be made to feel unloved or unwanted. It is also my hope that one day M. Dickson’s father realizes what a talented, intelligent daughter he has (even though I know she has moved on from that “dream,” hence the book).

My only note of contention is this: Although “humour” is one of the tags for the book and other reviews have called it painfully funny, I feel that this is a misleading description. I realize that it is not intended to be humourous in the traditional sense. It simply may be that I was not tuned in to the subtlety.

I admire anyone who has the courage to put such emotions out there for the world to see. Hopefully other children of divorce who have had similar experiences find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. Whether you have experienced divorce or not, make sure you pick up this heartfelt memoir; it will make you see the world differently.

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