Donald Miller is, without question, a name that his easily recognized in modern Christianity. Some love his works; some, not so much. Father Fiction is my first reading of Miller’s works, and my own response is mixed.
In this work, miller talks to young men about growing up without a dad in his life. The Authors own father was not present in his life, and this led to him struggling through many important developmental issues.
Many authors Endeavour to adopt a style that is conversational in tone. Sadly, most make the reader feel like they are struggling to manage this feat. Not Miller. Miller’s style is easy-to-read. As a reader, I found myself feeling like I was listening to a guy sitting across my living room or addressing a small group. This makes the pages fly by, and gives a great note of realism to Miller’s work.
This book has some very helpful, down-to-earth, advice to offer. Miller talks with frankness to young men about the need to grow up, to take responsibility for life, and to not let their past determine their future. The author speaks strongly about the need for young men to learn to pay their bills, to study for themselves, and to treat women and sexuality appropriately. There is an undertone of devotion to God that flows through these pages as the thing that will make all this actually able to come right.
While there is a sort of God undertone in this book that comes to the forefront, it is not nearly as prominent as would have made me happy with the work. Miller very seldom sites the holy Scriptures, and thus his writing smacks of Dr. Phil’s advice as much as it does Christian writing. Perhaps this is intentionally geared by Miller for a lost audience, but as a believer, it seemed that Miller gave good advice without going to the real source of power for life-change.
In a couple of instances, miller borders on crudeness. Of course, this is not at all uncommon for authors in Millers subgenre. His particular statement about what makes a “real man,” the possession of—shall we say—the proper physical equipment, is very edgy and not something I would particularly like an immature person to be spouting. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Miller’s point, and he is not nearly as edgy as several others in his field. However, this section stands out, and I consider it more negative than positive.
Father Fiction has the potential to speak with piercing clarity to many young men. If you have a young man in your life who is struggling with the lack of a father figure in his life or who is giving himself to too long an adolescence, this book might help. There are certainly points in the book that spoke to me, and I had a dad at home, and I’m glad to have heard them. However, I wish the book had a better use of Scripture and a more developed theology in evidence. Also, it could be used poorly by someone who is too immature to handle earthy language without it doing him harm.