Tim Bayly, Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood. Bloomington, IN: Warhorn Publishing, 2016, 222 pp., $15.99 pb.

One of the most touching stories in literature is found in Huckleberry Finn, where Jim, the slave Huck is helping to escape to freedom, mourns that he will never see his wife and children again, and tells this story about his daughter: She had just recovered from yellow fever, and was standing near him in the cabin when her father told her to “Shet de do’.” Lisbeth just stood there smiling at him, making no move to obey. He repeated the command and hit her several times for disobedience when she didn’t shut the door, but it finally dawned on him that the disease had made her deaf and dumb: she couldn’t hear him or speak to him. He dissolved in tears and embraced her.  Jim could not remember his family without remembering this.

There is a similar story, similarly touching, in Tim Bayly’s Daddy Tried, in which the author, a pastor and father of five, remembers spanking his daughter without adequately looking into the offense he supposed she committed. The book is about successes and failures in fatherhood under God, an anatomy of love based on that he and his brother received from their famous father (Joe Bayly was a well-known Evangelical writer and columnist) as it developed in and enriched his own life and he is concerned to pass to others.

It is a good book for a men’s study group, and for anyone who wishes to draw on Pastor Bayly’s paternal wisdom, gleaned from a life lived in validation of the 103d Psalm, with which he begins his writing: “Like a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them who fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” That includes both the fathers and their children.