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Book Review: The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler

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I first heard about Bruce Feiler’s new book The Council of Dads through an interview I heard on NPR. As a father of two daughters myself, the book’s focus drew me in. In it, Feiler shares the true story of his battle with cancer. His potentially fatal illness caused him to take a look at who in his network of male friends could “be his voice” if Feiler passed away. It is a gut-wrenching and sad book, but also very meaningful and touching.

The book recounts Feiler’s progression through a painful and debilitating battle with cancer via the seven chapters called “Chronicles of the Lost Year.” At one point, Feiler underwent a type of surgery to his leg that only one person had survived. Through all of the difficulties of his illness, Bruce was supported by his family and his friends or council of dads. With constant letters or visits, these men helped him not only deal with his illness, but have some comfort in knowing that they would be there for his daughters.

Other chapters are dedicated to each member of Bruce’s council of dads. These are men from throughout his past whom he had learned something from and had a strong connection with. Feiler hoped that each of them could connect with his daughters and provide their wisdom in his absence. He sat down with each of the members of his council and asked them to be a part of his daughters’ lives. For example, Feiler hoped that his friend Max would help to teach his daughters loyalty, self-respect, and dignity.

The Council of Dads could be a tough book to read for some. I have two daughters and the thought of me not being there for them is inexplicably difficult to deal with. However, I did learn a lot about what I could do to make sure that they could have positive male role models in their lives if something were to happen to me. I’m sure that other fathers out there could learn from The Council of Dads, too.

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