Thursday, March 18, 2021

Nothing Like Home Weekend Dad by Haseem Hrab

One Monday morning, my dad moved out of our home and into an apartment.

He said he wouldn't be far, just a bus ride away. Down the street, past the park, and through the tunnel.

The boy slips some photos of himself into his dad's suitcase in case he might forget him during the week. On Tuesdays the boy goes to the grave of his hamster Abraham and remembers that his father cried when they buried him. On Thursday the boy and his mother have tuna sandwiches for dinner. The boy remembers that his dad hates tuna sandwiches.

On Friday his mom packs the boys' suitcase with pajamas, two pairs of jeans, two sweaters, socks and underwear, a toothbrush, and his toy, Wendell. When his dad rings the doorbell, the boy kisses his mom goodbye. They take the bus down the street, past the park, and through the tunnel. It's a long ride. Forty-eight minutes.

My dad says I have two homes now.

This home is home because dad lives here.

It's nothing like home because my mom isn't here."

It's not like home because they have pizza from a box for dinner at a tiny round table. It's nothing like home because his bedroom has only a sleeping bag and one pillow and a street light shines and a car horn's honk comes through the window.

"I'm scared."

On Saturday morning Dad suggests that they do something special, but the boy only wants to do the same things they always do--play cards in the morning and go to the park in the afternoon. After dinner, they go to bed. The boy wonders if his mom went to the pool without him. Sunday is the same, and then it's time to go through the tunnel, past the park, and down the street to the boy's bus stop. The two stand awkwardly on the porch.

"Aren't you coming in, Dad?"


"I'm sorry. I don't live here anymore. I wrote you a letter.

Now that I'm not seeing you every day, I'm worried that you might forget that you are always in my heart." his dad says.

That night Dad finds Wendell waiting on his bed. And the next weekend, they take the bus past the tunnel, past the apartment, and to the store to pick out the boy's new bed.

Narrated by the unnamed boy who suddenly finds himself with two homes, Haseem Hrab's Weekend Dad (Groundwood Press, 2020) is a child's-eye view of the end of a marriage, told in straightforward language, portraying both the feelings of loss and the essence of hope, shown sensitively in the poignant line drawings of illustrator Frank Viva, which end with the boy sleeping with his letter and his Dad sleeping with Wendell. In a starred review, Kirkus says, “Viva’s illustrations capture the abundant emotional subtext with simple but effective lines. Unsparingly compassionate; an excellent addition to the collection of books about separation and divorce.”

Hrab is also the author of the the well-reviewed story of being the new kid in the class, Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend (Ira Crumb (1)), and Frank Viva is the author-illustrator of Outstanding in the Rain.

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