I haven’t come across many books that just don’t land with me, but Bruce Feiler’s, THE COUNCIL OF DADS is one of those books. I just could not get into it, and maybe it was in part that I listened to it on audio book, which was narrated by Feiler himself or maybe it was just the medium.
THE COUNCIL OF DADS is part memoir, part inspirational narrative about Feiler’s brush with bone cancer when he was still a relatively young dad. His daughters were only three when he was diagnosed. In order to process this shock, Feiler turns to various men in his life, whether it was colleagues, business partners, or childhood companions and asks them to be a part of his council. This group of men would be essentially “him” once he passed away. He doesn’t want to leave his daughters fatherless, and the council is one of the small measures Feiler took to ensure they wouldn’t be.
At its core, this book is a testament to Feiler’s strength of will and passionate desire for his daughters to be unmarred by his passing. Yet, despite the title there is little mention of the council other than the factual profiles that Feiler provides. While, I may have been hoping for an analysis of fatherhood and the sorts of dads that were being brought into the council in the first place. Instead, there are painstakingly detailed asides of Feiler’s paternal history as well as mentions of his wife’s father, none of which go much further than speculating on their lives and motivations.
I’ve never read Feiler before now, but I’m not sure what I was to expect from this short little book other than a vague sense of a missed opportunity. This is to say that what he had to go through with his cancer and amidst raising daughters is truly heartbreaking and his prose is quite at highlighting these intimate, sorrowful moments. At the end of the day, it is only hard to say what I ultimately took away from the book.
Don’t let me stop you though, if you enjoy a narrow in scope story, intimate stories of disease, and family then this could be a read for you.