Seven books with inspiring male role models

Published on: 26 September 2022

At the heart of Finbar Hawkins' beautiful new book, Stone, is the story of a boy's relationship with the father he adores, even after he's no longer there. Here, Finbar shares seven of the best books featuring brilliant fathers, sons, brothers, friends, and partners.

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

An incredibly moving story about loss and the way to find a way back to life. What struck me most about this book was the main character, Nathan, and his close relationship with his older brother, Saul, in a fatherless family. I loved how deftly Jawando subverts our expectations here. Saul is tough, but has stepped up to hold their family together.

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Yes it’s an old one, but a classic. I read it so many times as a child, and still have the hardback I was given as a Christmas present. The heart of the book is the tender relationship between Danny and his father, how they navigate their lives without Danny’s mother. It’s just superb, moving and funny, just how the best stories should be.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Another modern classic. I loved how Ness illustrates Todd’s fathers in this. There’s nothing pointed about their same-sex marriage, it just is. I hadn’t seen this before in a story for teens and I found it revealing and poignant.

Read our review

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick NessThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Lark by Anthony McGowan

Deserved winner of the CLIP Carnegie in 2020, this seemingly slight tale of brothers Nicky and Kenny as they journey across the snowy moors is wonderfully done and encapsulates a sibling relationship so perfectly. You’ll read it in one greedy gulp and then want to read it again.

Wranglestone by Darren Charlton

A daring feat of writing that combines a dystopian setting – where the dead walk the earth – with a blossoming romance between reckless Peter and the steadfast Cooper. The interplay between the characters is so superbly handled – plus zombie apocalypse, what’s not to love?

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different, Books 1 and 2 by Ben Brooks

What a refreshing, important read this is. I often dip into these inspirational stories from as far afield as Frank Ocean to Ai Weiwei – heroes all, showing young male readers how the male stereotype can and should be challenged. Every family with boys should seek these out.

The Upper World by Femi Faduga

OMG, I’ve just finished devouring this incredible read. After a blow to the head, 15 year old Esso is thrown headlong into a world where nothing is quite what it seems. Terrifying visions, time travel and quantum physics make this a compelling and clever thriller. 

Follow Finbar on Twitter or read our review of his first book, Witch.

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