23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I nearly passed on reading Father Fiction; I knew it by the former title but honestly the new title made me even less likely to read it...reason being, I grew up with a father. I only read it because I like Donald Miller. What I wasn't expecting was a lot of wisdom about life in general. And the book gets better as it goes along. Several chapters have little to do with the angst over growing up without a dad. I don't know how this book should've been marketed, but a lot of people probably won't read it who, like myself, grew up in a conventional household. And by the way, having a dad hardly means life is great. I had one and I am one, and there's baggage aplenty. "We all carry a father wound." We're all pretty disfunctional regardless of how we grew up. Eventually we realize that we're accountable for our choices and the parenting we received may be an influence but does not fate us to success or failure.
The chapters on dating, sex, and vocation should be read by everyone. This is Miller at his best. I especially liked his description of going on photo shoots with his nature photographer (and editor) friend John. He has perfected a refreshing style of writing that sounds like you're sitting with him at a coffee house. Don shares his Christian convictions without sounding preachy. Get beyond the title and enjoy.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2010
[ This review originally appeared in
THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS - Vol 3 #13 - 09 April 2010 ]
Writing in a conversational tone that is both humorous and engaging, Donald Miller is a superb writer, certainly one of the finest living writers of spiritual memoir. And yet, for most of his adolescent years, he struggled with his schoolwork, wondering if he really was incapable of learning and doing just well enough in school to get by. The son of a single mother, who worked slavishly to provide for their family, Miller attributes many of his academic and emotional struggles to the lack of a father in his life. In his newest book, Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation (which some readers will recognize as a reworking of his 2006 book To Own a Dragon), Miller bares the scars on his soul left by growing up without a father figure. Miller tells the stories here of the many men who mentored him on his journey, serving as surrogate fathers for various lengths of time and to varying degrees of success. It was, for instance, a youth pastor in his church, who befriended him and saw the gift of words in him, encouraging him to write -- even in a phase of his life where he had yet to read a book from cover to cover.
Father Fiction is not a light book, full of brutal honesty that will get its readers (presumably mostly men, or women who want to understand the experience of maleness in world dominated by fatherlessness) to think about their own formational experiences with their fathers, fatherlessness. Miller observes that this book is about "the hard, shameful, embarrassing stuff ... me secretly admitting to you I needed a father, and how I felt like half a man until I dealt with those issues honestly." Indeed, the road that winds its way through Father Fiction is a bumpy one that must be taken slowly and attentively. Underlying Miller's spinning the yarn of his life and speaking frankly about the wounds he suffered from growing up in a home without a father, is a deep stream of social criticism, a poignant assessment of the contemporary brokenness of the family and its psychological and sociological implications that never waxes nostalgic (as many religious conservatives are wont to do) for the stereotypical nuclear family of a bygone era. Indeed, his frank critique of the Promise Keepers' concept of masculinity -- which has dominated evangelical understandings of masculinity over the last two decades -- was a breath of fresh air.
Ultimately, Father Fiction is a hopeful book, inspiring those of us who are fathers to be more attentive to our fathering and to reach out in compassion to those young men around us (or even one young man) who are growing up without the presence of fathers in their lives. It would be a fabulous book to be read in our churches, especially by groups of men (and even moreso if a diversity of ages are represented in the group). This is perhaps the finest book I have ever read on the topic of masculinity (a topic on which, admittedly, I have not read all that many books), steering a wise course between the authoritarianism of the traditionalists and the drum-pounding psychobabble of new age men's movements.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
I received this book and nearly fell over when I noticed that this was actually "To Own a Dragon" with some revisions and under a new publisher. I already own a copy of the original book (which is a really good read), so I am disappointed that the product description did not include this bit of VERY USEFUL information!I enjoy Miller's writing when I am in the mood for a light, easy read. I would not consider it great enough to buy twice though. Furthermore, Miller uses this book to promote his Mentoring Project for fatherless kids. As a single mother, with little extra money to spare, I feel a little hoodwinked by this marketing ploy. In all, mama is not happy!
edited review 9/23/10: I want to clarify that I am not unhappy with the the book, or the author. I really enjoy Miller's writing. I am displeased with the Editorial Review on the product description page, and with the new publishing company's recommendations to change the title and drop the co-authors name in order to sell more copies.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2010
Donald Miller is, without question, a name that his easily recognized in modern Christianity. Some love his works; some, not so much. Father Fiction is my first reading of Miller's works, and my own response is mixed.
In this work, miller talks to young men about growing up without a dad in his life. The Authors own father was not present in his life, and this led to him struggling through many important developmental issues.
Many authors Endeavour to adopt a style that is conversational in tone. Sadly, most make the reader feel like they are struggling to manage this feat. Not Miller. Miller's style is easy-to-read. As a reader, I found myself feeling like I was listening to a guy sitting across my living room or addressing a small group. This makes the pages fly by, and gives a great note of realism to Miller's work.
This work has some very helpful, down-to-earth, advice to offer. Miller talks with frankness to young men about the need to grow up, to take responsibility for life, and to not let their past determine their future. The author speaks strongly about the need for young men to learn to pay their bills, to study for themselves, and to treat women and sexuality appropriately. There is an undertone of devotion to God that flows through these pages as the thing that will make all this actually able to come right.
While there is a sort of God undertone in this book that comes to the forefront, it is not nearly as prominent as would have made me happy with the work. Miller very seldom sites the holy Scriptures, and thus his writing smacks of Dr. Phil's advice as much as it does Christian writing. Perhaps this is intentionally geared by Miller for a lost audience, but as a believer, it seemed that Miller gave good advice without going to the real source of power for life-change.
In a couple of instances, miller borders on crudeness. Of course, this is not at all uncommon for authors in Millers subgenre. His particular statement about what makes a "real man," the possession of--shall we say--the proper physical equipment, is very edgy and not something I would particularly like an immature person to be spouting. Don't get me wrong, I understand Miller's point, and he is not nearly as edgy as several others in his field. However, this section stands out, and I consider it more negative than positive.
Father Fiction has the potential to speak with piercing clarity to many young men. If you have a young man in your life who is struggling with the lack of a father figure in his life or who is giving himself to too long an adolescence, this book might help. There are certainly points in the book that spoke to me, and I had a dad at home, and I'm glad to have heard them. However, I wish the book had a better use of Scripture and a more developed theology in evidence. Also, it could be used poorly by someone who is too immature to handle earthy language without it doing him harm.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2010
Let me tell you something. This has some great support by people you might not consider. When a fellow we all take for granted such as Jeff Foxworthy endorses such a book as this, and the WAY he endorsed it, you know this is powerful stuff! In his endorsement, Foxworthy makes the comment that his dad left when he was nine. He claims that Donald Miller rips himself open. Guess what folks, Jeff Foxworthy might be "The Redneck Joke Man", but he's absolutely right when he says what he says. I read that and almost burst into tears, and I hadn't even cracked it to the first page.
Another endorsement is by Roland C. Warren. He mentions his fondness for children with a hole in their souls in the shape of their dad. Warren was fatherless as well. And reading this book has helped the healing process. May it be said of others who read this as well
But guess what? My parents are still together, so therefore, I still have a dad! An awesome dad, I might proudly add. He had an awesome dad, who was affectionately known as my granddaddy. My dad and granddaddy taught me a lot of stuff, and I can't thank them enough. And even though Granddaddy has gone on to be with the Lord, I still love them both very much. So why did I even take interest in such a book? I'll tell you why. Because I first read the likes of "Searching For God Knows What" and "Blue Like Jazz" and I loved 'em! And plus, this might just say something about being a man. Yeah, you read that right. There were a lot of great parts in this. Miller talks about how John MacMurray's kids would wake him up in the morning and do what they could to get him out of bed. He speaks of going with John for long drives, while John as a photographer searched for the perfect photo. It really got interesting.
But Donald Miller also grew up without a father. He talked about how when he grew up, he felt like there was a game being played around him and he wasn't included. He talked about how he felt stupid a lot of times just because he didn't have a father. He speaks of a total security with our Heavenly Father, and how He fills that void. But even with that understanding, he still talks about feelings of doubt, and how he sometimes feels that God just might be interested in other people. This is honest stuff! It talks about how through forgiveness that people such as this can still carry on in life.
This was amazing. I simply loved the chapter where he broke down the Lord's Prayer. That was completely amazing, just something else! So expect amazing things in this. But while you expect amazing things, expect things to get a little hairy at times as well. Don't get offended or scream at the top of your lungs if you run into something to do with male anatomy. (no pun intended with the way I just put that sentence together, it just happened that way) Hey, it might cause a snicker or two, and hopefully people aren't too terribly uncomfortable with something like that. So, if you can get the fact that something like that might show up a time or two in this book, get ready!! Get set! BOOM!!! Hang on for the ride of your life. That has a lot to offer, whether you have a father or not. And either way, if you don't have a dad, it is nothing to be ashamed of. God looks out for the wounded hearts. Just ask Him!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This amazing book is not just for men, but for anyone who has grown up without a father, or anyone with a less-than-perfect father. (This is everyone--yes, that's what I'm saying--this is a book for everyone!) I grew up with a father who was married to my mother (they never got a divorce), but who was in the military off fighting wars, and then back at home with interests other than family, thus this book was especially poignant for me. But again, it is an incredible read for anyone--for everyone. I am a woman, and I loved this book, although it is ostensibly about manhood and masculinity; I experienced a degree of healing in my wounded relationship with my father after reading it. I cannot imagine anyone who would not find it enriching.
The author's style of writing, described in a Washington Post review as a "poetic, bohemian" style, is also hilariously funny and at the same time emotionally moving. Oftentimes, I laughed out loud. At other times I wanted to cry. The book is filled with my highlighting. The book is about the author's growing up without a father, his reflections on healthy families, on manhood, on dating, how our view of fatherhood affects our spirituality, how much God wants to father us, as well as innumerable life lessons that were both helpful and inspirational to me. All of these musings and reflections are told via stories, and the author is certainly a skilled storyteller. It is a very entertaining and rich read.
The audience for this book will be mostly Christian, as the author is a popular Christian author, but this book contains no preaching whatsoever, no Scripture references, and would be enjoyable for anyone, no matter what their beliefs.
This book had been previously released a few years ago by a small publisher, but is now being re-released as the author's books have gained a larger audience. I cannot imagine anyone, no matter what their gender or beliefs, who would not be enchanted and enlightened by it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2011
This is not really a self-help book, except in that I think it helped Don Miller as he wrote it. But it, for me, was helpful nonetheless. I grew up as a fatherless daughter, but a lot of the same problems surface in fatherlessness, whether you're a daughter or a son. It was crazy reading the same struggles I deal with show themselves in Don's writing. The one that stood out to me the most was the struggle with not wanting to get too deep with others, because you don't want to be a burden to them. I also related to the not feeling like you belong. This struggle shows itself in different ways for me than it does for Don, of course. Don says he felt like there was a club of men he didn't belong to, and I have felt that way amongst friends who come from stable, two-parent homes. I went through a mixed bag of feelings surrounding that--first just a general sense of not having what they have, and later a sense of unfairness that came with hurt and a feeling of being an outsider. Not belonging, as Don puts it.
So, all in all, a ton of what Don said resonated within my own heart. It did me a lot of good to see somebody analyze themselves and realize some of the same things were true for me, too. I do agree with other posters: it can't just stop there. There is still a missing piece: that Christ enables us to be healed from whatever we've been through. But I understand that the crowd Don generally writes for is nonbelievers, and in that light, I like his approach. He made it relatable, and yet still acknowledged God's part in his life in the midst of everything. All in all, I do think this book could be effective in drawing some young men (and possibly young women) closer to a relationship with God, but they'll need some outside resources to fill in that missing piece more fully.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I imagine this book speaks powerfully to boys/men who grew up either without a father or with an abusive father. It spoke to me, as a mother, just as powerfully.
Miller does a beautiful job of simply sharing freely his own experience as a fatherless male in a country where that is shockingly commonplace.
Not only does Miller meet people who offer glimpses into a father's heart, he meets the Father of Fathers...God Himself, and Miller finds out he belongs to a bigger family than he ever imagined.
The book is practical, it is inspirational, it is motivational. Given the huge numbers of the fatherless in our country, and the depressing statistics that follow the poorly and non-fathered child (increased drug/alcohol addictions, mental illness, promiscuity, criminal behavior, poor academic and relational success), it is good to read something that encourages us to move past those statistics and into the good and meaningful life we all long for.
I hope that many people are able to take their first step, or maybe their next step, toward healing and forgiveness through the pages of this book.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2010
Seriously? He already did this once with "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen maintenance." After Blue Like Jazz hit it big, they re-released an old title under a different name, "through painted deserts."
This book is a good read, but save some money or check it out at the library by getting the old title instead: "To Own a Dragon."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2013
Personal and poignant, but lacking. This is how I best describe Miller's odyssey into understanding what it is like to live without a father in "Father Fiction". I decided to read this book because the book description really hit home with me. My father abandoned me when I was 16 years old. That was almost 30 years ago and I had never seen him ever since. I later found out he died several years ago due to cancer. What was done was done. Forgiven.
While much of what Miller describes in this book resonated with me, there seemed at times a lot of rambling on. There were a few chapters that I had to literally skim through because they didn't really apply to me or just seemed a bit irrelevant and contrived. Miller, being a single, seems to have written this book primarily, but not exclusively, for young single men coming to terms with their fatherless history. Nevertheless, there was some good stuff that applied to me as a married man with children. Without spoiling the book, I will say the last two chapters were the most personal and profound. Here he talks about forgiveness and empathy in detail culminating in a great ending. I give this book a 3-star rating. I liked it, but there did seem to be a lot of irrelevancy and rambling on. It left me with a feeling of wanting more. I guess I was looking for more practicality and didn't seem to find it in this book. Nevertheless, I recommend this book for young men who were abandoned by their own fathers and are seeking to relate with other like-minded men.