Verdict: Though the author has a tendency to over explain an already eloquent narrative, A Father’s Angels is a moving and meaningful read.
When John Waldron decides to adopt a child, he doesn’t realize that this will be a journey that will create a family but one that will also give him a glimpse into personal demons, social and political injustices and teach him about unconditional love and patience.
Both the author’s note and introduction dive right into the issues addressed in this book: the author’s adoption process and “the tide of hostility and increased retribution toward Hispanic immigrants,” or more specifically, the passing of Senate Bill 1070 which makes it a crime to hire or transport illegals. Author John Waldron explains that the women that he hired to be nannies were the reason that he succeeded as a father to his adopted children.
Though the handling of these stories and issues create some incongruities in the tone of the story, Waldron has managed to write a down to earth memoir in which he reveals the difficulties in adopting his children, especially his first child, Miguel. Waldron details the tension in the adoption process, because of the paperwork, finances, logistics and emotional stress, and how the rigmarole of the process was heightened because of his status as a single, gay parent. In the book’s introduction, Waldron addresses the debate about illegals in the United States, stating that the women who were essential in his success with raising his children were the Hispanic nannies that he hired – most who were also illegal immigrants.
Waldron’s writing is humble and painfully honest and captures the gambit of emotions he faced while in the adoption process and adjusting to life as a new parent; daring to confess his fears and insecurities of financial woes and self doubt that he had the wrong child and wanted to give up: “The truth is that I’m terrified, scared shitless, and most times feel downright disoriented and afraid to admit it to anyone.”
Waldron’s descriptions, especially of the setting for the impoverished immigrants, are concise and vivid:
“As we search for Maria’s house, there are several young men in baggy pants and “wife-beater” t-shirts engaged in negotiation . . . Many of the trailers have additional wood structures that have been haphazardly pasted to them to expand the tiny living space within. The expanse of metal structures is a snapshot from a third world country.”
The Nannies also come alive in Waldron’s touching and poignant descriptions that detail the variety of ways they quell chaos and bring peace to Waldron’s home. Waldron shows how each of the women differs in their expression of love and attention; Paulina does it through play and creativity while Carmen, a more grandmotherly nanny tends to the family’s needs through cleaning and organizing – but all of them with interact with patience and love.
At times the flow of the story is interrupted with redundancies or unnecessarily explanations when Waldron summarizes what he has also shown us in the narrative, often with the descriptions of Miguel’s outbursts: “Wounds inflicted upon young children create a pain that is raw and powerful, and that can lead to unforeseen fury, which can be spontaneous and vicious.”
This change of tone and focus is also evident and equally distracting when Waldron’s descriptive narrative reads more like a political stand. Though the themes of illegal immigration, single and gay parenthood are pertinent to the story, Waldron’s voice changes sharply and detracts from lyrical quality of the story when he portrays those who are in favor of the Senate Bill 1070:
“His fears of drugs and gangs are fueled by conservative talk radio hosts, who project a fabricated reality separate from the experience of the majority of alien residents who are hard-working and only want for a better life.”
Though the author has a tendency to over explain an already eloquent narrative, A Father’s Angels is a moving and meaningful read.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader
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