I know it’s very common for parents, especially fathers, to be absent or portrayed negatively in YA books. Not every father is Atticus Finch, but there are more dads in teen books that are loving and supportive than you might think. Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I wanted to celebrate some admirable dads found in YA books.
“All I can think is that I want her more than anything. I want her more than I’ve ever wanted anything ever.” (Bobby, 16, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, winner of the 2004 Michael Printz Award and 2004 Coretta Scott King Award)
This is the book I immediately think of when I think of fathers in YA books. It might have been published in 2003 but it’s still fresh in my mind, even after all the years since I first read it. It’s not just that it’s about a teen father, but it’s also because it’s written from the father’s point of view instead of the mother’s. In this companion book to Heaven, Bobby is an African American teenager struggling to raise his adored baby daughter Feather by himself after the baby’s mother tragically dies.
“I am a father.” “I am Jupiter’s father.” “I will always be Jupiter’s father.” (Joseph, 14, Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, coming out November 3, 2015)
Joseph may be practically a child himself, but by aged thirteen he had been incarcerated for allegedly trying to kill a teacher, and is the father of a three-month-old daughter named Jupiter that he’s never seen. He will do anything he can to find her. This is a beautifully written story that will make you cry but also uplift you.
“I’m glad to hear you think you ought to feel guilty.” “I was beginning to wonder whether we’d brought you up properly.” (Derk, The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones)
After they are unwillingly chosen as tour leaders, unconventional wizard Derk and his magical family try to stop the devastating tours of their world arranged by the tyrannical Mr. Chesney. Derk specializes in genetics, specifically in creating new animals & the family consists of both humans and animals (that talk). Teenaged son Blake has a fifteen-year-old brother, Kit, a griffin. Kit’s murderously angry with Mr. Chesney for his disrespectful treatment of Derk and the family and the quote above is what Derk says in response to Kit’s confession that he wanted to kill Mr. Chesney but felt guilty about it. Blake wants to attend Wizard’s University but his father Derk is dead set against it. Mara, Blake’s mom says, “…Your father thinks, rightly or wrongly, that you’ll end up as miserable as he was, or you’ll find yourself doing nothing but look after the tours like the rest of them. And that would break his heart, Blake.”