The untimely passing of Frank Kovacek in 1966 leaves his wife Ruth a widow, two daughters, Jenny and Margot, and a son, Toby, fatherless. Ralph Cohen brings all these characters to life in their attempt to grow up to adolescence in the 1960’s Southern California. Each chapter’s written from a different angle. The adventures of Jenny and margot are written in the first person, Toby’s struggles are written in the first person. You need to take notice of the superscriptions for each chapter to facilitate your understanding of the storyline. Sometimes I felt reading a coming of age, longing for a happy end, or a tragic suicide. At other times I really missed the reason for describing in much detail women fights, Toby’s violent introduction in prison after being caught for 30 burglaries, or all the pranks Jenny and her roommates have brief encounters with.
The quality of writing in the novel After Dad is remarkable. From introducing many Dutch surnames, a little German in the last chapter set in World War II, in the Ardennes, the scenery in prison, coffee shops, dormatories and broken families. Jealous sisters testing boyfriends, a female teacher surprisingly popping up in unexpected places, and mental disorders with their raw and painful effects. Where you would hope for the best, all family members follow their dad in some kind of tragic course of life.
About the author
Ralph Cohen was born and raised in Southern California, where he resides with his wife, the ceramic artist Ruhama Cohen. His background is in journalism and media relations. This is his first published work of fiction.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.