Summary: Thirteen year-old Megan is less than enthusiastic about her upcoming cross-Canada family road trip. Stuck in the backseat of a car with her younger brother and experiencing humiliation after humiliation when it comes to her father’s actions, Meghan starts planning her escape. When an opportunity presents itself she takes it, but the consequences of her decision cause her to see her father in a different way. Gradually Megan begins to realise that she won’t have her father forever, and his birthday celebration makes her determined to appreciate what she has.
Number of Pages: 85
Age Range: 12-13
Review: You know, I’m not really sure I would call this a teen book. At first, I thought it was too young. Meghan is a young thirteen year-old irritated by the thought of spending her vacation on a family road trip. While it inevitably isn’t as bad as she expects in some ways, but worse in others, Meghan explores the idea of running away from the trip to get some space, especially from her father. Better suited for pre-teen readers I thought.
But then I got to the last sentence, and I was mystified. Suddenly I felt as if I had jumped past the teen years completely, and that perhaps all along my narrator had been a middle-aged woman who had recently lost her father. Because the last sentence contains such wistful nostalgia, the whole story morphed into an adult book for me.
As a piece of nostalgic writing, Hey, Dad! is quietly beautiful. I learned things about Canada I never knew, and Doyle captures the essence of the family road trip experience so well that the book transported me back to the road trips of my childhood. I’ve labelled it as being for twelve to thirteen year olds, but I really think this book would be best enjoyed by people my age and older, reliving the memories of youth.
“Restaurant food wasn’t nearly as good as food you cooked yourself outside where everybody pitched in like a family team. When everybody helped with the food it tasted better and it was better for you. Also, it was better to be in the outdoors, in the countryside. You’d see more and get a better idea of what Canada was really like. You’d get to talk to other travelers, picnickers and campers on the way and you’d get a feel for each province as you went.” – Megan from Hey, Dad! by Brian Doyle, page 12
“Funny how songs can remind you of things that happened a long time ago. Songs are the best things of all for reminding you of stuff. And smells too. One time a man came over to our place and sat in the kitchen smoking his pipe. The smell of his pipe reminded me exactly of my grandfather who died. I could almost see Grandpa sitting there in the kitchen if I let my eyes go half shut.” – Megan from Hey, Dad! by Brian Doyle, page 16
Hey, Dad! by Brian Doyle is published by Groundwood Books (1978).