Laurie Steed‘s second book, Love, Dad, came out just in time for Father’s Day. It was not, as you might expect, a treatise on how to be a good father. Instead it’s a memoir of one man’s experience of fatherhood, along with a collection of musings on how to be a good father, a good man, and a good person.
Told in chronological order, and beginning with his own childhood experiences of siblinghood, moving to Australia, and parental discord, Love, Dad is a frank and moving account of its author’s thoughts and feelings. He says in his introduction that this was not the book that he set out to write. Those who have worked with Laurie (as I have) will know that he is primarily a writer of fiction, and an acclaimed writer of short fiction in particular. But, the subject matter of this memoir is not wholly new territory. His debut novel, You Belong Here, was also about a family, and about navigating the challenges of life together and apart.
Love, Dad is a deeply analytical book, and its author looks at the world and the people around him through a lens of kindness and curiosity, all the while struggling with anxiety and plagued with feelings of self doubt. It is this that makes the book so relatable, even to those readers who are not men, not fathers, not parents, not writers. Steed taps into the universal experience of feeling not good enough, and in doing so, empowers his readers and gives them hope.
The book is also segmented into thematic arcs, such as ‘Birth’, ‘Connection’, and ‘Holding On’. While many of these sections do hark back to reflections on fatherhood and the changes in the author’s life due to the needs of his young family, it would be a mistake to call this a parenting book. Steed offers no practical advice, and openly admits that sometimes, he has no idea what he is doing, but is rather feeling his way through. At times, you can see that he is letting his children teach him what they need. Steed also writes about the need to reconcile competing needs, such as the difficulty of leading a creative life when you have three other humans depending on you. He writes about awful jobs and stressful times, as well as the beautiful moments that make it all worth it.
Ultimately, Love, Dad is a memoir which will pull at your heartstrings, and make you appreciate the people around you all the more. It is a book which gently lets you know that it is okay to make mistakes, and to fail, and reminds you that the people around you are what matter the most. If you’re in need of a hopeful cry, head to this book. And then, call your Dad for a chat.