Father’s Day is coming up this weekend, and it can be a time celebrate or it might stir up some complicated emotions. Not everyone has a perfect relationship with their dads, which is why I thought it might be interesting to highlight three excellent YA books that feature interesting (and sometimes very complicated) relationships between teens and their dads. Here’s an incredible new release, a graphic novel, and a fan favorite with a sequel coming out later this summer. (And by some strange stroke of luck, all of these books also happen to feature queer protagonists! Happy Pride!)
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
In this novel in verse, a plane traveling from New York to the Dominican Republic crashes, and Camino and Yahaira’s lives are forever changed. Camino lives in the DR, and Yahaira in New York City. What they don’t know is that they share a father, a man who split his time between his two daughters and kept his two families a secret from each other. But now that he has died the sisters are destined to discover one another and learn the truth, and along the way they must reconcile their grief and love for their father with the secrets he kept from them while he was still alive. This is an incredible story of family, secrets, and learning what it means to be a sister.
Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw
Amanda has a pretty great life, and she and her dad are very close. They spend each Sunday afternoon watching baseball together, and Amanda wouldn’t have it any other way. Then Amanda’s best friend begins pressuring her to date, and Amanda doesn’t know how to tell her that she might not be exclusively attracted to guys. On top of that, Amanda begins to suspect that her dad is keeping a big secret from her, and when her mom refuses to talk about it, Amanda knows it’s true. But when Amanda’s sleuthing reveals just exactly what her dad’s secret is, it drastically changes their relationship. This is such a fantastic graphic novel about the confusion of growing up and realizing that relationships are much more complicated than you thought.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius is half American, half Persian, and he never feels like he’s enough. He lives with depression, and although it’s being managed with medication, he feels like he’s disconnected from his dad, who also takes medication for depression. This shared experience seems like it should bring them closer together, but it doesn’t. Then Darius and his family must travel to Iran to visit his dying grandfather, and Darius is confronted with a whole new set of customs and expectations, which is both exciting and overwhelming. He also makes his first real friend in his grandparents’ next-door-neighbor. But it’s only when Darius is finally able to open up to his dad about how he feels that he begins to feel like maybe he’ll be okay. Khorram’s debut is a compelling story about family, culture, and the power of friendship.
What fictional YA dads do you love? (Or love to hate?) Share with us on our YA Instagram page, @BookRiotYA!
Want more “3 On A YA Theme” posts? Gotcha covered.