Tuesday 12 June 2007

Dear Gabriel: Letter from a Father by Halfdan W. Freihow

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Perfect Father's Day Gift
Published by House of Anansi Press

Dear Gabriel was translated by Robert Ferguson as it is originally written in Norwegian. Defined as one of the most beautiful books written in that language, it's easy to see why, once you begin to read it.

It is written as an open letter from a father to his son. Gabriel is a special child who lives with autism every day. In this book, his father writes of his memories of certain days they shared, the way Gabriel shows an unrelenting courage, and determination to live a "normal" life.

We, the readers, are given glimpses, not just into the life of Gabriel, but into the lives of those around him, friends, family, teachers, and most of all, his father. The book shows a complex and yet wonderfully close and intimate relationship between father and son. A relationship which is sometimes sprinkled with misunderstandings and frustrations but always, always filled with an unfailing love.

This book is both uplifting and heartbreaking at once. It is brutally honest, not just about living with autism every day but also the fears and concerns when innocent questions are asked. Among the most memorable, and forgive the paraphrasing, is when Gabriel asks what will happen when his parents die, who will look after him, and his father can only reply "I don't know son".

As for the glimpses into Gabriel's life. Oh wow. He has a curiosity, a way of just reaching out and grabbing life in all it's entirety that is simply infectious. It truly is inspiring to read about. I shed tears of laughter, and of joy and this book touched my heart in ways few books ever have.

I think this is also a perfect time to be reviewing this title, with Father's day coming this Sunday. It makes a great gift idea! Young or old, male or female, this book will appeal to most. I was surprised, pleasantly, by the honesty the author shows in revealing his heart and mind. A Fantastic read!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just finished reading this - it's an utterly beautiful book, honest, moving and with that unique lyrical style that norwegians seem to have - reminds me of Jostein Gaarder.