My Father’s Arms are a Boat

I truly LOVE discussing books, movies, songs, life in general with people. I LOVE it even more when I don’t agree with somebody on the topic we’re discussing — not necessarily because I love to argue with people, but because the argument tends to challenge my own thinking and forces me to see things from another perspective.

And I had one of those conversations this morning with our school’s librarian, Carrie. Now, you should know that we’ve got the greatest librarian on the face of this earth — and no, I’m not just saying that — yes, our librarian is better than yours! She is so unbelievably passionate about getting kids to read and does an absolutely wonderful job in not only learning what each of our students reads, but then also making suggestions as to what else they would like. Quite frankly, she’s our school’s greatest resource.

Carrie and I don’t tend to agree on the things we read (with the exception of The Book Thief, that is), and we tend to have some lively discussions. Man, she can be wrong — a lot…


Seriously, I truly enjoy talking with Carrie about books — and because we differ in our interests, I’m challenged a lot. A major reason for this is that Carrie is married and the mother of three — obviously, this in itself brings an entirely new perspective to our conversations.

I mentioned the other day about subscribing to some pretty cool sites, like Upworthy and Brain Pickings — the suggestions that they make tend to be just flat out incredible. Brain Pickings’ overview of Stein Erik Lunde’s My Father’s Arms are a Boat did not let me down.


I received it this week and had the chance to sit down with it last night — it’s not a long read by any means, but it will stick with you for sure. Immediately, the words beautiful, and tender, and raw came to mind. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story deals with loss, a subject that always interests, and yes, saddens, me. At the same time, I look for the real in most things.

This book forces us to look at mortality — and that’s a tough one, for sure. I don’t want to think about my family members dying at all, but it’s going to eventually happen. I know that’s blunt; I get it. And I can see where Carrie’s coming from — especially when adding kids in to the equation. It just hits too close for her.

Lunde’s writing is striking — and Oyvind Torseter’s graphics — I wouldn’t say it’s fair to call them illustrations, drawings or simply pictures — stand out on their own as well. Together, they have created a masterful piece, in my opinion.


Carrie wants uplifting — and I can see where she’s coming from — a children’s book that doesn’t have a happy ending almost seems to defeat the purpose, right? Except life isn’t fair. For the child or the father, life isn’t fair. Life is real. And this is real for both the father and the son.

I’ve had this conversation before — specifically with students after the movie The Break-Up came out. SPOILER ALERT: I seriously LOVE the fact that Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston didn’t get back together at the end when it all looks as though they will. I LOVE that this is real, that everything didn’t work out all rosy.

I’m not saying that it’s always like this. I get that many people go to see a movie to escape (or read a book or listen to a song…) But at times it is like this. And sometimes we need to learn to deal with it. That is the moral to Lunde’s story, in my mind; that sometimes it’s going to be tough — and we need to lean on each other to get through it, and sometimes it’s not going to get better.

One thought on “My Father’s Arms are a Boat

  1. Pingback: PPBF: My Father’s Arms are a Boat | julie rowan-zoch

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