Cover Image: My Father the Whale

My Father the Whale

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Member Reviews

Many family dynamics to be digested here. Ruby and her dad, Mitch, are accustomed to being together and surviving in their own way but that doesn’t necessarily make for the safest or best environment for a child.

There is a beautiful and somber undertone cast over this novel, giving a familiarity to the families out there who may be unconventional but okay with that. There’s no dramatic moment of terrible parenting or lives ruined, but a lot of real confusion, disappointment, questions of why to be sorted through.

I found this to be a sad story but one with happy memories and productive circumstances.

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Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this audio book.

I really enjoyed this one! I think my only complaint was I felt there was too much of a jump in time so it kind of threw me off. I would have loved a little more of the in-between. Still thought it was a well written story, and the narrator did a good job.

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It took me a while to get into this book but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I did think it skipped as head a bit too abruptly at times though.
I enjoyed the complex relationships between family, but also showing that you can create your own family.

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Thank You, NetGalley for the review copy.

My Father the Whale by Gina Perry is a beautiful coming-of-age story of Ruby.

It is the story of Ruby and her father Mitch. They lead a nomadic life because that's what is the right way to live according to Mitch. The story moves on when slowly Ruby realises she wants to go to a regular school and not keep moving from place to place, to have a home and friends. After a while Mitch leaves her with her friend's family, abandoning her for years until he comes back.

I really liked this book. It has depth and a lot of heart. And made me realize how much kids trust parents even if they are wrong.

Definitely worth a read.

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A beautiful and touching coming of age story about a motherless young girl, her nomadic single dad and their adventures throughout Australia. I really enjoyed this audiobook and was surprised to learn it is a debut novel. I sympathized with Ruby through her struggles growing up and her yearning to know who and where she came from. I also felt for Mitch, he too struggled with his own life choices and was getting by the best way he knew how. I did feel the ending to be a little rushed, however it was wrapped up without leaving loose ends. This was not only beautifully written, but the narration truly made the book come to life. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you NetGalley, and Bolinda Audio for the opportunity to listen and review this advanced copy.

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Beautifully narrated by Ayesha Gibson, My Father the Whale by Gina Perry is a wonderful coming of age story. Ruby lives in a Kombi with her dad, Mitch, travelling around Australia, busking to survive and dumper diving for food when the opportunity presents itself. Mitch is fiercely anti capitalist, anti school and anti the straight world in general l. Ruby’s world changes when, stuck in a town with their vehicle expensively broken down, the authorities make Ruby go to school. Mitch has taught her a lot and she copes with the school work but not so much with the social side. She is rescued by Fiona, who also doesn’t fit in and Ruby makes her first friend. We follow Ruby into adulthood, and we learn more about Mitch and Ruby’s never to be talked about mum, and discover nothing is black and white, nothing is as simple as it might at first seem. Sensitive, emotionally intelligent and really entertaining, My Father the Whale is a hugely enjoyable audiobook that I unreservedly recommend.

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I read the audio version of My Father the Whale, a story set in "almost" all of Australia. It is a lovely debut novel and I think about it a lot. Ruby and her father Mitch travel all over the country, living in a "Kombi," which is part camper van, part tent, as they use it. (I think it is a VW camper.) Early on, they compete in a talent contest with both locals and travelers trying for the prize. It's hard to write about this book in general and to avoid spoilers, so I will let the reader discover their act. It's a fun scene. Ruby is nine. Father and daughter are very close and living on the edge financially, barely able to afford food. Along the way, they enjoy the Australian coast, Ruby learning about history and concepts in context. Thus, Ruby, a very bright child, is being educated but is not in school. Mitch does not allow her to mix too much with people. He schools her on how to answer if authorities question them. They have a close and loving bond but, while he will have a beer with people along the way and a fling with a woman here and there, Mitch is a suspicious and careful person and Ruby lives a rather isolated life. It's what she knows and she is emotionally mature and reads and makes art and knows that she cannot ask about her mother. Mitch is highly critical of conventional people, those driven by wealth and materialism and pretty much anyone but Ruby. He is a grifter of sorts but one never takes anything offered by anyone because they will want something.

When the Kombi breaks down and needs very expensive repairs, they get stuck in a small town with a fish factory as its main employer. Vagabond Mitch is chomping at the bit to earn enough money to hit the road again. The story evolves as Ruby begins to interact with people and understands what a family that is settled in one place looks like. Mitch is known to leave Ruby on her own at times and she is incredibly self-sufficient, but she. is. nine! Not okay. So, while their life worked and their love for one another is plain, the nine year old in 1984 wants more. Having been raised to be independent and self-sufficient, she achieves the stability she desires, but she loses her father. This is a coming of age book that takes a huge leap between nine year old Ruby and twenty-something Ruby. All of it is told by Ruby. Mitch comes back into her adult life after she has lived many years with a family she connected with. Ruby's and Mitch's relationship these many years has consisted of postcards and a smattering of phone calls. Ruby yearns for Mitch, her only parent and friend of her early years. But she struggles with feelings of abandonment and rejection, because to find stability she lost her father.

I adored the audiobook because the narrator is Australian and it was so much fun to hear the words, including vernacular unfamiliar to me, in Ruby's "real" voice. This is a lovely novel that emotionally engaged me. Mitch is complicated and can both engender admiration and piss you off but he is fascinating. There are hardships and ways Mitch's influence on Ruby and the opportunities he gave her shaped her in good ways. The town she ends up in, Whalers Bay, is a character itself, with hierarchies and neighborliness and a protective air about it, as well as some rejection for Ruby. Ultimately, Ruby's relationship to the town and the family that took her in remind us we can create a family of choice. Still many who do that are in pain that their original family relationships broke down. Mitch suddenly returns to town when Ruby is in her twenties and all the heartache and hope roils in Ruby.

Father and daughter's plain desire to find a way back to one another is hampered by who each has become and by Mitch's ongoing inability to have deeper conversations with Ruby that could heal their rift. The love is there and their shared history makes us root for them. Read the audio book of this if you use audio at all. It is just lovely. Highly recommend!

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Dear My Father the Whale,
I absolutely loved how unique you were. Being able to hear about growing up as a nomad in Australia with a father like Mitch was fascinating to me. Ruby's childhood was interesting and compelling, but it also left her so broken by her childhood. Ruby's voice was one of a kind. Being able to hear from her as an adult, with time and perspective on her childhood gave you a reflective quality that I connected with as well. You are a story like nothing else I have read.

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I was totally charmed by Ruby and her dad, their lifestyle, roaming from one place to each other. Relying on nobody but themselves.
It was heartwarming.
Then they settle down, and things change, stability is appealing to Ruby, but not Mitch.
It's the start of the end of them.
Later, a grown up, looking back, we question how things actually were, seeing them now through adult eyes , not a nine year old.
This one sucked me completely in. A winner for sure.

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