What Daddy Did

Overview

Just One Big Happy Family...

That's the way Preston Scott would have described his all-American family. His parents seemed to have everything, including the ideal marriage. But then their perfect life started to unravel. Mr. and Mrs. Scott began to. fight-vicious, hurtful, drawn-out battles that went on day after day. Finally one day Mrs. Scott moved out. And that's when Preston's nightmare began...

Now, three years later, Preston's dad is getting out of prison, and Preston is no ...

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Overview

Just One Big Happy Family...

That's the way Preston Scott would have described his all-American family. His parents seemed to have everything, including the ideal marriage. But then their perfect life started to unravel. Mr. and Mrs. Scott began to. fight-vicious, hurtful, drawn-out battles that went on day after day. Finally one day Mrs. Scott moved out. And that's when Preston's nightmare began...

Now, three years later, Preston's dad is getting out of prison, and Preston is no closer to coming to terms with his feelings about him. Because how can you forgive your father for killing someone...when that someone was your mother?

Here is Preston's searing true story about upheaval, growth, faith ... and the power of love.

No one has an inkling that handsome, athletic, and talented Preston Scott is carrying a terrible secret: His father was imprisoned three years ago. Now Mr. Scott is coming home to live with Preston and his little brother, Tyler—and Preston has yet to come to terms with his feelings about him. Because how can you forgive your father for killing someone . . . when that someone was your mother? This unforgettable novel is a fictionalized account based on the words of the boy who experienced these events firsthand. "Impossible to put down . . . a stunning novel." —V.

1992 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
Children's Choices for 1992 (IRA/CBC)
Young Adult Choices for 1993 (IRA)
1992 Outstanding Young Adult Fiction Award (The Southern California Council on Literature)
1993–94 Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award (Oklahoma Library Association)

A fourteen-year-old living with his grandparents learns his father is to be released from prison after killing his mother and feels apprehensive about renewing the relationship. Based on true events.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although Shusterman's novel is based on a true story, readers may well be disappointed by his listless treatment. The minimal character development and lackadaisical pace deaden the impact of these potentially intriguing incidents. Preston Scott grew up believing that his family was especially close-knit and happy. But his parents' fights increased in frequency and led, finally, to a separation and plans for divorce. This unhappy situation took a dramatic turn when Preston's father shot and killed his estranged wife. Preston and his brother were sent to live with his mother's parents, who refused to testify against their son-in-law. Even before he was released from prison, Preston's father was welcomed back into his wife's family. These tragic events are robbed of even the dubious allure of tabloid sensationalism. Those looking for insights into this disturbed--and disturbing--family will unfortunately not find them here. Ages 12-up. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 8-12-- A disturbing story based on true events. Fourteen-year-old Preston Scott was 12 when his father killed his mother. He narrates the events surrounding the tragedy, struggling to reconcile the hate and love he feels for his father, and attempts to put the experience in perspective. The account is an unbelievable testimony of love and forgiveness by family (except Uncle Steve) and courts (Danny Scott serves two years for his wife's murder). Preston's grandparents readily forgive and accept their son-in-law; they ``adopt'' Preston and his younger brother, Tyler, and move to a new neighborhood to protect the boys from the publicity of the past. When his father is released from prison, Preston must confront his ambivalent feelings of loneliness, fear, relief, and insecurity and, ultimately, ask his father why. Shusterman attempts to characterize Danny as a troubled but loving father, haunted by his wife's rejection and his depression over a tragic childhood happening. In contrast, Preston's mother is less clear and less appealing. Shusterman glosses over the inevitable lifelong strain in family relationships after such a traumatic event; at story's end, Preston has come to terms with his emotions, forgiven his father, and achieved success in high school football and track. He goes on to be his father's best man in a new marriage. Too many issues are not sufficiently resolved here, and readers are not given enough information about these people to understand their motivations or to be convinced of their psychological healing. --Gerry Larson, Chewning Junior High School, Durham, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064470940
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/31/2075
  • Series: Trophy Keypoint Bks.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.99 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Bruiser, which was a Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) choice, a YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick, and on twelve state lists; The Schwa Was Here; and the Unwind dystology, among many other books. He lives in California with his four children.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Feud

April 1982

My hands are so cold, I can barely move my fingers. My knuckles crack each time I try. I see Mom under the bright lights, and my heart begins to claw its way up my throat. The butterflies in my stomach are turning into bats, and I think, What am I so nervous about? I'm not the one up there. But logic doesn't work when your mother is standing next to Richard Dawson, in front of three television cameras and a packed studio audience. Family Feud is very serious business.

"All right, Megan," says Richard Dawson to my mom. "Your sister got you one hundred and twenty points — you need eighty to win. Are you up for it?"

Mom smiles politely. "I guess," she says, and giggles a bit. I can tell she's just as nervous as I am. No, she must be more nervous. There are beads of sweat all over her forehead, replacing the ones they blotted off while she waited backstage as Aunt Jackie took her turn giving answers.

Now it was all up to Mom.

Off to the side I can see Grandma Lorraine, Grandpa Wes, Uncle Steve, and Aunt Jackie, all waiting for Mom out of the camera's view. Why did they have to give Mom the anchor position? That's the roughest part — I know about that. If she messes up, she'll feel as if she lost the whole ten thousand. But then again, if she wins, she gets all the glory. I know about that, too.

Richard Dawson begins his little speech from memory, like a policeman reading someone their rights. "All right, Megan, you'll have thirty seconds in which to give your answers," he says. "If you repeat any answers your sister gave, you'll hear the buzzer, whichmeans try again. Are you ready?"

Mom nods. I can see her wringing her hands, out of the camera's view, as Richard looks down at his question cards.

"A state," says Richard, "that begins with 'A.'"

"Arkansas' " she says.

"Children's favorite holiday."

"Christmas!"

Bzzzz! "Try again."

"Halloween!"

"A make of foreign car."

"Mercedes!"

"An animal you find at the zoo."

"Monkey!"

Bzzzz! "Try again."

"Horse."

She shakes her head immediately, knowing she goofed. That one'll cost us.

"A fruit you eat on cereal."

"Banana."

"A famous painter."

She doesn't answer. She's taking too long.

"Picasso!" she says.

Bzzzz! "Try again."

No answer. She's blanking out!

"Da Vinci" she says.

Dad, sitting next to me in the audience, shouts with joy. That must have been a good answer. The audience applauds, but it's not over yet.

"All right," says Richard, "turn around, and let's see how you did."

Dad stares straight ahead, concentrating on Mom. Like me, he feels like he's right up there with her under the lights. His hands must be cold, too, his stomach full of bats.

Without looking at me, Dad smiles wide and shakes his head in amazement. "She did it, Preston" he says to me. "I really think she did it!" He stares at Mom with a mixture of love and awe. Under the bright studio lights, she must look like a movie star to him. She does to me.

And all at once I know that Dad is right — that Mom has done it. Not just because Mom gave mostly good answers, and not just because we beat that other family in each and every round, but because we deserve to win. Because right now, everything is so right, so perfect, that it can't go wrong. It was simply meant to be — and when something's meant to be, no one on earth can stop it. Not even Richard Dawson.

One minute later, we are ten thousand dollars richer. Dad is holding me and my brother, jumping up and down with both of us in his arms. We stumble out of the audience and down to the floor, and all of us hug and kiss Mom. Grandma, Grandpa, and the rest run out from the sides to join us. We all hold each other, jumping up and down in front of the cameras like imbeciles, but we don't care. This is our family, this is our day, and we can be imbeciles if we want!

Dad hugs Mom, giving her a big kiss, forgetting that my brother and I are between them. We get crunched and bounced around, but I have to laugh. The crowd cheers, and we get swallowed up in all the excitement and all the grown-ups around us. It feels like magic — like another world — and I silently wish that this moment would never end. That Dad would hold Mom like this forever, with my brother and me smushed tightly, tightly, between them — our whole family pressed so close together that my feet barely touch the ground...

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