Halpern, J. (2010). Sh*t my dad says. New York: Harper Collins.
Hardcover $15.99, Paperback $5.99, Kindle $2.99, 176 pages
Author’s Website and Interviews:
Annotation: Just one tweet set into motion a chain of events that would forever change not only his life but his foul mouthed father’s as well.
Summary: At the age of twenty-eight Justin Halpern finds himself once again under his parent’s roof when his long distance relationship of three years suddenly ends. Justin’s father Sam Halpern has always been blunt, sometimes to the embarrassment of his family and one day Justin decides to take all of his dad’s quotes and use them as his Instant Messenger’s going away message. Each day he uploaded a new quote until his friend encouraged him broadcast his dad’s quotes to a larger audience via Twitter. Justin created a Twitter page as a way of keeping track of all of the crazy things his dad said and before he knew it one follower turned into three million. Knowing his father hated the public eye or any type of recognition, Justin was hesitant to tell his father what he had been doing and that he had been offered book and television deals based on his father’s words. With the encouragement of his father, Justin begins to write his coming of age story with the help of his dad’s most memorable life quotes. Starting from the age of four until adulthood, Justin chronicles his father’s blunt and often vulgar words of wisdom.
Evaluation: I just want to say that if you are offended by foul language, vulgarity, and raunchy sexual humor, then this book probably isn’t for you. Having said that, I found this book hilarious. The very first sentence had me hooked and left me laughing out loud. I love that it is written so bluntly and really captures the nature of Justin’s father and their dysfunctional yet loving father-son relationship. It is such an honest look at their father-son dynamic and what it was like for Justin growing up with a father who had no filter and didn’t care what anyone thought. I love that it charted Justin’s life from small child through adulthood as it really allowed the reader to see how the relationship with his father progressed as he came into his own. Although the dad comes across extremely crass, foul mouthed, and grouchy, there is a definite undertone of complete love for his son which is seen throughout passages in the book. I also really liked that the writing is very conversational and I literally could picture Justin’s seventy-three year old father sitting in a chair spouting off the day’s obscenities as if he were reading the news. It is a really great coming of age story that is chocked full of humor.
Genre: Popular non-fiction (Memoir)
Appeal Factors: The writing and storytelling are hilarious, raw, and touching. It is a quick read chocked full of humor and witty comebacks. It is a real life portrayal of a father-son relationship and a funny coming of age story.
Read-alike Titles and Authors:
Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Tales from the Dad Side by Steve Doocy
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alborn
Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
Seriously I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Damn You Autocorrect by Jillian Maddison
New York Times Best Seller
- Read the first few lines on the first page to use as a book-hook. It is raunchy humor at its finest!
- Dialogue: Copy and/or read dialogue from the book with audience participation. One person can take on the role of Justin and one person can take on the role of the father. It will help bring the book to life.
Book Discussion Questions:
1. What do you make of Justin’s mom being absent for most of the book?
2. Do you think Justin is at all like his father? If so, how?
3. When Justin is younger he is embarrassed by his father’s blunt nature, but as he gets older he begins to appreciate it more. Why do you think that is? What does Justin come to realize about his father that he didn’t as a child?
4. Were you surprised by Sam’s reaction when he found out his son had posted his quotes on Twitter? Do you think Justin’s decision to take his father’s “words of wisdom” public changed their relationship? For better or for worse?
5. What was your favorite quote in the book and why? Does it reveal anything about Sam or his relationship with his son?
6. Were there any passages that made you feel like the dad went to far? The incident with the math teacher for example?
This book was recommended to me by a friend with the promise that I was going to laugh my a** off! I had heard of Justin Halpern before and his use of Twitter as a means of divulging his father’s infamous words. I had wanted to read the book but never found the time until now. I am really drawn to books that have a crude sense of humor and I am not offended in the slightest by foul language. The title also really drew me in because I was curious to know what exactly the father said that was so worthy of being put in a book. The fact that it was a funny coming of age story was also another deal sealer for me.