Book review: The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler


My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me
by Bruce Feiler

Among my wide taste in reading material, I do enjoy feel good stories and stories of people who make good against big odds. This explains why I chose this book. I was at Wal-Mart (Where else does America shop?) and I was drawn to the big box of discounted books. I am drawn to books like flies are to honey. Sorting through the jumble I came across THE COUNCIL OF DADS. I read the fly leaf and it sounded interesting, hopeful, and uplifting.

The book centers around the author who is a well-published writer. He has made his living by walking miles around the world and writing what he sees. Imagine then the turn his life takes when he is told that he has a 7 inch tumor in his leg. He has made a living walking and now he may not walk again.

Add to this the fact that he is married with two 3 year old girls. As he faces his mortality he wonders how his children will remember him if he does not survive. As he thinks about this he comes up with 6 men who have had a great influence on his life. These 6 men know him best and he feels they can best help his children know who their father was should this become necessary. What a great idea! I was curious as to who he would choose and why. The book goes on in detail about his family, his cancer treatment, the effects the treatment has on him, and describes the 6 members of the council of dads.

I have been an oncology nurse for over 15 years and in my opinion, cancer patients are some of the bravest and most resilient people in the world. I marvel that despite therapy and surgery and fatigue and side effects, they still get up in the morning and send their children to school. They go to the office, the grocery store, and the bank. I honor cancer patients. It was my privilege to have a part in their care.

With that said I found this book to be disappointing and a drudge to read. I cannot pinpoint why, but the author irritated me to no end. I found him to be a complainer and, dare I say it, whiny. I am not minimizing the effects of treatment. While therapy has improved in many ways, it is by no means a walk in the park. Treatment can be debilitating. Still, I just couldn’t find this guy likeable.

I was also disappointed in the way he presented his council members. Somehow I expected it to be different, yet I can’t put my finger on what I was hoping for. I really expected to get a better understanding of who the “dads” were. This book is definitely not a keeper, at least not on my bookshelf. How many stars out of 5? 2 and that was because I was fascinated with his surgeon, the surgeon’s upbeat attitude, and the surgery he performed.

I don’t come across many books I don’t like, but this is the second one for the year. That is a lot for me. But I am not in despair. I am currently reading two books that I will tell you I am enjoying. I’ll be sure to share them with you when I have finished them. In the meantime, have a great day!

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