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The Dead Father’s Club, by Matt Haig

May 20, 2009

deadfathersThe Dead Father’s Club centers around eleven-year-old Philip, who gets caught up in a revenge plot after his father dies in a supposedly accidental car crash, and his Uncle Alan charms his mother and takes over the family pub.  Philip finds himself dealing with bullies, girls, fatherly ghosts, stolen chemicals, and the trials of adolescence as he tries to get his life back.

Philip thinks, acts, and talks realistically through most of the book.  A thoughtful reader will see, though, where Philip is mistaken and where he is reliable.  Although all the reader gets is Philip’s perspective,  we can read through the lines and see what is really happening.  Matt Haig develops Philip’s character well and reveals Philip through important details from his life, for example, how Philip thinks about what he’s learning in history class in school and how it influences him in his impressions of what’s going on with his family.

I savored this book over a week, enjoying the dark humor and the parallels to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  It is set in modern-day England, with beautiful visuals that delightfully scare and compel the reader deeper into the plot.

Haig chose an unusual but appropriate style. The only punctuation in the story consists of periods and question marks, which I found fitting because it helps to show Philip’s innocence and how he doesn’t know or care about correctness. The lack of commas was hard for me to read at times, though.

The conclusion to this book is wonderful.  It leaves some mystery, and the reader has to unpack what has been happening all along.  As I finished it, I found myself flipping pages in search of more, but I also knew it was the perfect place to end it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, The Dead Father’s Club is a definite 10.  I adored the plot, characters, and revelations but also the twist on a modern-day Hamlet.  Because of the adult content, this is a book for teens — boys or girls — who are looking for a different kind of novel.


Publisher:  Penguin, 336 pages

Read more about this title on Amazon.com

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