The approach of Father’s Day has got me thinking about dads in literature. You’ve got your classics like Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, and Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. But what about dads in contemporary YA? Here’s a short list of some of my favorite fathers in teen literature.
Bobby from The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Maybe this book isn’t the most contemporary novel (it came out in 2003), but Bobby is one of the most fabulous fathers in YA, and I’d argue, in all of literature. This book was revelatory when it was released, not just because it was about a single teen parent, but because it was told from the father’s perspective. The book depicts Bobby’s life before and after the birth of his daughter, and does so without stigma. His incredibly moving relationship with his daughter is at the fore.
Mav from Concrete Rose and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Speaking of fantastic teen fathers, let’s talk about Mav from Concrete Rose and The Hate U Give. In Concrete Rose, prequel to The Hate U Give, Mav discovers that he’s going to be a father not once but twice in the course of one school year! Despite his mistakes, like Bobby, Mav does everything he can to be the best father he can be. In The Hate U Give, we get to see Mav as an adult, still doing the best he can for his family.
Arthur in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Another well meaning but flawed father is Arthur Avery in Fangirl. Despite his struggles with Bipolar Disorder, he clearly still very much loves and cared for his daughters, Cath and Wren. I particularly love the thoughtful and authentic way Rowell depicts his relationship with Cath.
Dan Covey in To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
Dr. Dan Covey is another of my favorite YA dads. He manages to be supportive of each of his daughters as individuals, but also helps push them to care for each other as sisters. I especially love all he does to keep his late wife’s Korean heritage alive by doing things like cooking Korean food for them and spending time with their extended family.
Sam Quintana in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Sam Quintana, like most of the characters in this book, is so gosh darn charming! Librarians are probably predisposed to be fans of his since he’s an English teacher too. Sam and his son Dante have a warm relationship, and they can talk to each other openly and with ease. Ari observes how different his relationship is with his own father. I love watching how Sam’s relationship with Ari changes through the course of the book–he’s almost like a second father to Ari.