Florida Writers Association's Royal Palms Literary Award Winner
To Daddy, Who I Never Loved
A Novel by Gary Robert Pinnell
To Daddy, Who I Never Loved, is a young adult-literary-historical smashup. It is child-in-jeopardy lit, and it is a coming-of-age story narrated by a voice that readers can't stop thinking about.
Curtis Pye is hyperliterate; by age 15, he’s read one quarter of the books in Hell Creek High School Library.
Oklahoma schools are ordered to racially integrate in 1967, and to mainstream with special-needs students. Curtis, dark-skinned, curly-haired and of indeterminate race, is considered white. He is the first student to make friends with a black girl, Sammie Davis, and to befriend a Downs student, Stanley Jones.
Curtis has never spoken with a girl, but falls hopelessly, hormonally, despairingly infatuated with O’Murphy Scott.
Murph has set her mouth for the wrong sort of boys, and every time she isn’t with Scooter Andersen, her thuggy boyfriend assumes she’s with Curtis. Scooter, Spit and Pickle Andersen pick a disastrous fight with Curtis. All four are ordered not to return to school.
Since he was a baby, Curtis has been bullied by his brother, Biggy. After yet another fight, Curtis swallows a bottle of aspirin, but suicide fails.
Jonathan Robert Pye spends his Marine career stationed in Japan and North Carolina and Camp Pendleton, and philandering everywhere he goes. When Curtis Pye is 9, his mother, Ginny, leaves her husband and moves her children back to Oklahoma. Curtis’s opportunity to know his father is gone.
Curtis finds a letter with his father’s post office box address in Palo Alto, California, but no street address or phone number.
Sammie suggests Curtis’ father, an ex-Marine, could train Curtis how to fight, so Curtis hitchhikes 1,700 miles from Hell Creek, Oklahoma to Palo Alto, California. He sleeps in trucks, in ditches, on a rooftop, and in a laundromat. He learns from mentors: truck drivers, a college student, and a soldier.
Curtis waits by a P.O. box and hopes each day his daddy will come.
Hippies on their way to the Summer of Love direct Curtis to the Full Circle, a communal restaurant in Palo Alto where he works for meals and a safe place to sleep.
At the Full Circle, Curtis finds a temporary home, friends, and acceptance. He meets Brother Love, a postal worker, street preacher and psychologist who completes Curtis’s education. Brother Love arms Curtis emotionally to complete his hero’s journey, fight his battles and understand life.
Curtis discovers his own courage, independence, confidence and redemption.
Months after he leaves Oklahoma, Curtis, who thought he was the most invisible boy in high school, returns to Hell Creek and finds himself regarded as a local Jack Kerouac.
As he bicycles past O’Murphy’s house, Curtis finds Spit and Scooter assaulting O’Murphy. He fights the Andersens again, and earns Murph’s respect.
Choosing The Title
This novel was originally called by the waaaay-too-pretentious title, The Sociological Plight of Fatherless Boys.
An Amazon search showed several novels with the next title, Daddy Issues, including one that was – judging by its cover – incestuously homoerotic.
After years of searching for an original title, I finally settled on To Daddy, Who I Never Loved.
WARNING - Themes include sex, drugs, racism, violence, suicide, bullying, molestation, lovemaking, and self-harm, which may upset or offend some readers.
Fatherlessness is one central theme of To Daddy, Who I Never Loved (319 pages, 76,000 words).
The U.S. Census estimates twenty million children today – one in four – live without fathers in their homes. Some never get the opportunity to love their daddies.
The other central theme is bullying. Everyone has daddy issues or mommy problems or sibling rivalries.
One in three younger siblings are intimidated so successfully by older brothers or sisters, they become meek. They are further bullied at school, and are frequent victims of child sexual abuse.
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