Long Gone Daddy

( 2 )


When a young man's grandfather dies, he and his minister father travel to pick up the body, and learn to understand each other. Harlan Q is living and working in a funeral home, which he finds easier than living with his Bible-thumping minister father. When his grandfather dies, he has to convince his father, Harlan P, to pick up the corpse. With little money and a quickly ripening body, father and son must tolerate each other during a long drive to bury the old man. They pick up a Zen-minded actor bound ...
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Long Gone Daddy

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When a young man's grandfather dies, he and his minister father travel to pick up the body, and learn to understand each other. Harlan Q is living and working in a funeral home, which he finds easier than living with his Bible-thumping minister father. When his grandfather dies, he has to convince his father, Harlan P, to pick up the corpse. With little money and a quickly ripening body, father and son must tolerate each other during a long drive to bury the old man. They pick up a Zen-minded actor bound for Hollywood, who helps them mend their relationship during a stop at the grandfather's bar, Long Gone Daddy's, in Las Vegas.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hemphill borrows themes from Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood and a plot point from As I Lay Dying in this impressive debut, set in July 1972. After a rift with his preacher father, 14-year-old narrator Harlan Q Stank apprentices with a local mortician. The boy's first meets his grandfather (Harlan O, just back in their north Texas town after a 20-year estrangement from his son, Harlan P) in his employer's basement. Grandfather, having suffered a fatal heart attack at a nearby motel, lies smiling on the cooling table. After learning that an inheritance of $50,000 and an Eldorado convertible await-provided that the body arrives back in Sin City for burial-Harlan Q talks Paps into driving Grandfather back-the cash inheritance to be cleansed by funding The Sunnyside Savior Church Radio Hour. A road trip in the church station wagon ensues, with Grandfather casketed and crated inside. A flat tire leads to an addition, handsome 19-year-old Warrior (aka Warren Ducklo), actor wannabe, dabbler in alternative religions and an estranged "PK" (preacher's kid) himself. Warrior and Paps's unceasing religious haranguing, while driving Harlan Q nuts, underscores his own painful, even panic-stricken quest to tear himself from his father's wrathful grasp. Laugh-out-loud scenes, a marvelous narrative voice, period details and appealingly quirky characterization outweigh the too-tidy ending, making Hemphill a writer to watch. Ages 13-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Harlan Q. Stank, rebellious, wise-cracking teenage son of preacher Harlan P. Stank, is about to have a life-changing experience. Ironically, it is due to someone else's death. After a religion-based parting of the ways with his fanatical father, Harlan Q. has been living and working at a funeral parlor. When he comes across the body of his grandfather, Harlan O., the corpse is as unexpected as it is unfamiliar: Gramps left home twenty years earlier, before Harlan Q. made his debut. Gramps' death sets off a strange course of events, resulting in a father-son road trip (complete with corpse-in-coffin) from Texas to Las Vegas. Along the way, they pick up nineteen-year-old Warrior, a would-be actor, who happens to be another misunderstood preacher's son. Warrior's own search for religion and understanding changes the dynamic between Harlans P. and Q., causing them to examine their own relationship. For awhile, this only exacerbates their problems, leading Harlan Q. to steal and ultimately lose their sizeable inheritance. While in Vegas, Harlan Q. also visits Long Gone Daddy, the popular bar his grandpa co-owned and loved—and where he kept an ongoing, long-distance scrapbook of Harlan Q.'s goings-on from birth on up. In the end, even though the inheritance is gone, Harlans P. and Q. are much richer, having rediscovered each other. Although their reconciliation is predictable, it is also satisfying. Hemphill's wry humor and likeable characters make this an overall enjoyable trip. Warning: Harlan Q.'s irreverence may be more offensive than funny to devout readers. 2006, Front Street/Boyds Mills Press, Ages 13 to 16.
—Naomi Milliner
VOYA - Walter Hogan
Harlan Q. Stank is the son of Reverend Harlan P. Stank and grandson of the long-absent Harlan O. Stank. The three are known as Harlan O, Harlan P, and Harlan Q, respectively. Annoyed by his Bible-thumping father's constant preaching, young Harlan Q has recently moved in with the local funeral director and his kindly wife. Unexpectedly the remains of Harlan O, the "long gone daddy" of the title, arrive at the funeral parlor. The old fellow's will leaves a bundle of cash and a Cadillac convertible to his heirs, but it stipulates that he must be buried in Las Vegas. Eager to get away from "pitiful old Bean's Creek," the rural, dusty Texas town where he has spent all of his fourteen years, Harlan Q employs considerable ingenuity in persuading his stern father to transport the body to Las Vegas to complete the conditions of Harlan O's will. The ensuing road trip across the Southwest provides plenty of opportunities for the strict father and rebellious son to thrash out their differences. Along the way, they pick up Warrior, a Hollywood-bound aspiring actor whose laid-back philosophy gives both uptight Harlans food for thought. Finally glittering Las Vegas, the destination of their pilgrimage, richly fulfills all of Harlan Q's dreams and all his God-fearing father's nightmares. Some surprising twists and turns force both father and son to question their assumptions and renegotiate their relationship. Regional flavor, quirky humor, and strong father-son dynamics are the elements of this entertaining debut novel.
Paulette Clark
This was a delightful story that let the reader feel the emotions and battles of a teenage boy trying to understand his thoughts and life—separate from the thinking of his father, the preacher. His struggles bring out the bitter anger within himself when he tries to express his feelings and opinions. Harlan Q, the protagonist, begins his relationship with his paternal grandfather on the cold, mortuary embalming table. While he and his father transport the grandfather's body to its final resting place in Las Vegas, they encounter a young philosopher, Warrior, who gently opens the minds of Harlan Q and his father. The journey unravels the mystery of the grandfather and the world to Harlan Q. He experiences a world outside his hometown and realizes his own vulnerability.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Harlan Q, 14, lives and works with the local funeral director and his wife because his evangelical preacher father, Harlan P, has evicted him for religious doubts. There he meets his grandfather, Harlan O, for the first time. The fact that the man is dead doesn't stop him from wanting to know more about his relative. The teen convinces his father to drive the body to Las Vegas to collect an inheritance, and thus the two have the opportunity to develop a relationship and learn something about the man who has been lost to them for 20 years. The premise is interesting, but not much happens as the two travel, have car troubles, take on an aspiring actor who is more interesting than either Harlan, and find themselves in a city that fascinates the younger Harlan as much as it horrifies the elder. The characters are not fully developed except for the former and some barely seem to have a face or voice, like his mother. As Harlan Q learns about his grandfather through the people who knew and loved him, he discovers a compassionate and intelligent man, but Harlan P never does accept him. Harlan Q knows a bit more about his father at story's end, but it's not clear what lessons are learned by either of them as they begin their ride home together.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It's the dead body of his grandfather that Harlan sees on the porcelain table in the morgue where he lives and works to escape confrontation with his evangelistic preacher father, Harlan P. Never having seen Grandfather Harlan O before, Harlan Q decides to head home and see how the family will react. His pompous father (who refers to himself as we) is intrigued when Harlan Q makes a case for achieving greater glory to God if they drive Grandfather's body to his home in Las Vegas to fulfill the terms of his will. The hook is that Harlan P will inherit enough to have his own radio ministry. While poking some fun at the extreme religiosity of Harlan P's faith and other foibles, Hemphill nevertheless manages to create characters that fit into the Texas small-town atmosphere and the lively worldliness of Vegas. The road trip doesn't go as planned, nor does the memorial service, but Harlan learns about himself and how much his father loves him along the way. Wryly funny, this first novel relies a bit too much on hillbilly diction and unusual events, but Hemphill is still a writer with promise. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932425383
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: HL600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Hemphill is the author of Hattie's Carnton: Plantation Life in the Generation of the Civil War and was honored with a Frist Foundation Teacher Award. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and has helped students publish in magazines. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Long Gone Daddy by: Helen Hempnm

    I give it a three star review because it doesn't grab your attention at the beginning but it does fit the title for a mystery book but that's just my opinion its a little slow for the first four chapters otherwise not bad

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2008

    Highly Entertaining

    Harlan O. Stank is laid out on the embalming table of Hamilton & Johnston¿s Funeral Home, and thus starts a fabulous book. Not since Cold Sassy Tree have I so enjoyed a story written from the point of view of a fourteen year old boy. Harlan Q. Stank 'the grandson' describes himself as the result of the genetic crossing of Elvis and Jiminy Cricket. How could I NOT love this story? The author gently probes the relationship between fathers and sons and religion with a razor sharp wit, warmth, and humor as she traces the trek of Harlan P. and Harlan Q. from Bean¿s Creek, Texas to Las Vegas, Nevada in an effort to bury the newly departed Harlan O. on a road trip fraught with interesting encounters and unfortunate events. It¿s a book that I highly recommend.

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