Book Review: Claire Halliday’s Things My Father Taught Me is a love letter to Australian Dads

In the lead-up to Father’s Day journalist, copywriter and author, Claire Halliday follows up her previous book, Things My Mother Taught Me with one about the dads. Both books are collections of short interviews undertaken by Halliday with well-known Australian identities, where they describe the relationship they have with a parent. These range from warm and caring bonds to ones that can be a little fractured and difficult at times. This new collection, Things My Father Taught Me provides an interesting and sage look at the father-child relationship.

In this collection there are nice stories, like radio personality Em Rusciano deciding to play in a band with her papa. Anthony Callea remembers coming out to his supportive Italian father and telling the old man he wants to become a singer. Or the story of how Sunrise presenter David Koch had a close relationship with his late father and how he now tries to employ some of the lessons he learned from his Dad with his own children. Author, Matthew Reilly credits his father with helping him stay grounded in the wake of his phenomenal success as an author, whilst Halliday herself describes her adopted and natural dads. Other notable interviews include: George Calombaris, Danny Katz, Normie Rowe, Santo Cilauro and Ann Peacock (the daughter of former liberal politician, Andrew Peacock.)

The biggest thing about all of these stories is that there is no one-size-fits-all. For some kids their dad is a figure of authority and a strict disciplinarian. For others like Joe Hildebrand the relationship was more of a friendship, even when Joe was a youngster. The stories here also describe how relationships develop and change over time. These vignettes are all so intimate and honest and they will get you thinking about your own relationship with your parents.

There is no denying that fathers have a profound impact on their children, and books like this one serve to confirm this. Things My Father Taught Me reads like a love letter to Australian dads, and although their unique stories are diverse and interesting enough to fill several books,  this one will have to suffice.

Things My Father Taught Me is an intriguing collection of different stories about how fathers have helped to shape lives, provided advice and different skills; as well as the living and breathing character traits that their kids have gone on to emulate in some cases. Things My Father Taught Me is ultimately a pleasant and insightful collection that you should sit down by a fire and share with your Dad.

Things My Father Taught Me is available now through Echo Publishing.


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