Guest Post by Jeffrey Blount
The Importance of Fathers
Why don’t fathers die more often in children’s and young adult literature? Are they just not important enough? If an author kills off a father in the forest, would anybody care?
My wife, Jeanne and daughter, Julia were founding members of a mother/daughter book club that lasted from the time Julia was in third grade until she graduated from high school. I admit I was a little jealous of the wonderful experience that they were having and I tried to at least keep current with the happenings by reading some of their books. Over time, I began to notice a trend – mothers dying and leaving behind devastated children who would eventually rise to handle the ongoing task of living and the personal triumph of discovering something truly important about themselves. Jeanne and Julia, while recognizing that many of their books did include expiring moms, felt I was exaggerating by calling it a trend. But wait I argue, there’s even a book called “One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies” by Sonya Sones. I knew I was on to something. But what did it mean?
My investigation into the matter uncovered the notion that mothers are considered the glue of family life. They run the home, they nurture, they educate and they love in an incomparable fashion. It stands to reason if these things are taken away from the family, there would be a breakdown. But in today’s world, with both parents working in most families, it also stands to reason that dear old dad would be doing a lot of the home organizing and nurturing. I know that’s the case in my home, as well as the homes of a few amazing fathers that I have watched over the years.
So one night at the dinner table, I stood tall for the rights of fathers. I demanded that more fathers of literature meet their end and be tragically missed, thereby increasing the importance of dads in the lives of young readers. I made a pledge at that moment, that I would someday write a young adult novel and kill off the dad. Years later, I sat down to write “Hating Heidi Foster” with the mission of celebrating love, friendship and family. And yes, the driving force behind the book’s mission is the death of the father and I do believe that when all is said and done, readers will love the book and at the same time realize that fathers take up a lot of space in the lives of families and are missed just as much, well almost just as much, as moms.
Jeffrey Blount is an Emmy award-winning television director and an award recipient for scriptwriting on multiple documentary projects. Born and raised in rural Virginia, he now lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Jeanne Meserve. They have two children, Julia and Jake.Amazon Link