“Believe me, it’s not easy being a dad. It takes love, strength, patience, understanding… and the ability to lie sincerely to impressionable young children about all manners of things, from the existence of Santa Claus to why they can’t have a puppy.”
Lying to Children is a funny novel, set up as a series of vignettes. Each chapter is named after the appropriate lie, like “Daddy loves his job”, which then goes on to tell the children stories related to that lie. It’s a unique take on telling parenting stories, and reads as seamlessly as a well-structured fictional novel.
Anyone raising kids, or who has already raised their kids, will connect with this book. The writing is funny and captures the insanity of having children. Telling these stories from the perspective of the children already grown, gives it an added twist of humor, because let’s face it, owning up to some things we do as parents is quite hilarious at times.
At the end of each lie, there is a lesson. Or a piece of parenting advice. So, the use of ‘lies’ is riddled with deeper meaning. Sometimes we realize later in raising children, that they are tougher and smarter than we give them credit for. Sometimes the white lies and mistruths we tell them to protect them were unnecessary. Or they serve a purpose, to help teach a lesson. This novel does an excellent job of taking through that journey in these short snippets.
Many pieces of this book are seriously laugh out loud funny. Even though the father is definitely a caricature of a father, he reminds you enough of a normal father that these embellishments serve to highlight the lunacy of life rather than belittle it. There is a Chevy Chase in Family Vacation humor to this father. He is over the top and ridiculous, but at times, aren’t all fathers in some way? Have children: and at the end, if you’ve never questioned your sanity, you will be my all time hero. They make us behave in bizarre and inexplicable ways.
My absolute favorite chapter in this book is “If you eat too much candy, your teeth will fall out.” The piece when he describes leading his daughter and her friends as Frodo, is one I was laughing through the entire time. Imagine a father rallying the teenage troops, and they are all true to character, and he has no idea what these characters are. It is quite comical.
“One does not simply walk into Palisades Park,” the other human with the sword said. “It is riddled with fire and ash and dust. The poisonous fumes alone could kill you.”
“What?” I asked.
The pieces that I found the funniest, and I’m sure this is true with any reader, are the ones that felt relatable. As I mentioned, the Halloween one was one of my favorites. I am sure that my siblings and I have mystified my father on more than one occasion. If we begin talking about Star Wars or Harry Potter, at some point I’m sure he thinks we’re just making things up. When this father shakes his head and plunges forward not understanding his children, I thought of how many times my dad probably did the same thing.
As with any good novel on parenting, there are a few moments that warm your heart and make you want to call your own dad. They aren’t super sappy, or over the top heavy with emotion and sentimentality. They are fitting and appropriate for the book. Raising children is ridiculous and filled with wonderful moments. But there are just as many that make you angry and break your heart. And at times, our children will terrify us with their own fragility. This is part of being a parent, and again, Shahla navigates those waters with each lesson fitting appropriately within each lie.
“I learned a valuable lesson the day. There are no shortcuts in life, and there are no shortcuts in parenting.”
This is a fast enjoyable read. It’s perfect for reading on vacation, or near your own family. I found myself reading parts aloud to my husband and son. It is a book that would be fun to share with my parents and siblings.
While there are the hilarious moments, there are some moments that drone on a bit and feel like Shahla is simply trying to hard. The humor misses, and it feels more like rambling than a cohesive story. A few chapters would have been a lot better with those parts cut out.
Whether you had a ridiculous father or not, there is enough truth written in each story that I think people can identify and relate. It is meant to be funny, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t truth written in the humor.
Lying to Children is available on Amazon now.
Thank you to Booksparks for sending me this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review!