This book has four loosely connected stories about the private lives of teachers and students in an upscale high school north of Manhattan. As noted in the title, the relationships between fathers and daughters are highlighted, as are the connections between teachers and students. The dynamics in a variety of types of family arrangements are explored in depth. In the first tale a teacher who has idealized her place in her family and idolizes her father slowly realigns her attentions and love to a new man in her life. The second story concerns a gay man who discovers he has an 18-year-old daughter. Another tells of a daughter of divorced parents who becomes more involved with her father as he is dying. She is also the object of affection of her childless married English teacher. The sections of the book are named by the seasons and you can feel and smell the changes and mood of the New York City streets and Central Park. There are beautiful, detailed descriptions of emotions, but sadness and loneliness prevail throughout the book. Author Benjamin Markovits gives us brutally honest insight into what his characters are thinking, which may contradict what they say or how they act. This voyeuristic viewpoint keeps up the reader’s interest. There is no Jewish theme in the book, but there are occasional Jewish references.
Miriam Bradman Abrahams is a Cuban-born, Brooklyn-raised, Long Island-residing mom. She is Hadassah Nassau’s One Region One Book chairlady, a freelance essayist, and a certified yoga instructor who has loved reviewing books for the JBC for the past ten years.