For whatever reason, and I'm sure it has something to do with the reading audience, most of the books I've seen that deal with a parent rescuing a child, it's the mother who's the star. Either the father is the villain, worthless, or dead. It's the fearless, heroic mother who is charged with pulling up the proverbial boot straps, and doing whatever it takes to protect their child. I'm going to be honest with you guys, as someone who was a single father for over ten years, I found the this phenomenon to be rather odd, and in a strange way, just a tad bit sexist.
Needless to say, when I found the books that featured a father doing everything they could to protect their child, it was something I could connect with and understand. The first father who comes to mind for a lot of people is the unnamed father in The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and I'm sure he will feature in a future Favorite Fictional Character post. Today's post is about a father, Ian Hunt, who did everything he had to, including some intense violence, to rescue his daughter form the man who kidnapped her seven years ago. He is the tortured protagonist in Ryan David Jahn's The Dispatcher.
When Ian is first introduced to us, he is an emotionally crippled man, barely functioning in his day to day world. His daughter was kidnapped seven years ago, and his life has fallen apart since then,. His wife left him for another police officer, he is estranged from his son, who he partially blames for the kidnapping, and he hates himself for it. When he receives a 911 call from his daughter, he is thrust into a violent confrontation to save his daughter.
He is forced to cross boundaries he never thought he would, including the torture and murder of a man who knows more than he is willing to say. He is thrust from one violent situation to another, bent on securing his daughter's safety, and nothing is going to stop him.
What I love about Ian, other than his overriding paternal instinct, is the hope he has for himself and his daughter. He is not only undertaking a journey to bring her back home, but it's a journey of self redemption. He not only unjustly blamed his son for the abduction, but he placed a lot of the blame on himself. He truly believed he was deserving of the way his life fell apart over the last seven years. This is his one change to not only protect her, but to prove his worthiness as a man and a father. He is one of those characters that is in so much emotional and mental pain, that almost nothing is off limits.
Truthfully, Ian is a hero to me. Despite anything that he is forced into doing in this book, I can't see myself doing it any differently. As a father I would have done anything to protect my son, and once he was safe, I would have worried about the consequences. I just hope I would have the same mental fortitude to get the job done.
Wait, did I know you were a dad?
You're right, most of the books/movies out there have the mother risking all to save their child. There's Taken, but that's pretty new. Now I'm curious about Ian!
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