Friday Fiction: Another Dad dumps his family story

my dad lives in a hotel

My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel

For those of you looking for a totally depressing book about divorce for your kids, this might qualify. The beginning has our kid, Joey, found his mother sad and depressed when he got up for breakfast. Evidently, Dad didn’t come back after a fight last night. Mother is just devastated. Joey has trouble coping and hides in a closet at school.

Joey then begins his quest to talk to his father. This Dad is no prize. Joey remember how is Dad taught him to swim by throwing him in a pool with the “sink or swim” comment. After school Joey decides to find his dad and talk to him about being a better kid. Dad is disinterested and is barely engaged as Joey presents him with a written promise to be a better kid. Dad still says no to being married to Mom. Joey makes peace after his friend, Pepe says lots of kids don’t have a dad at home.

This book was about a 100 pages. I am guessing this was targeted at grades 3-5. It is really dated (25 cents for the bus ride!) Not to mention, Joey seems to be wandering around New York City unsupervised.

Evidently, there was an Afterschool Special in the early 1970s with Beau Bridges. I guess I missed this one when I was a young teen.


my dad lives in a downtown hotel title page

Mom crying about toast

Joey sitting in the closet at school

Joey and his dad

Joey's contract for his dad

dropping Joey at the hotel


  1. I know I read this within a couple of years it was released at age eight or nine, but it was not memorable or relatable for me. (Teacher’s pet that I was, I probably sneered at the kid’s spelling mistakes.)

  2. Joey, you and mom are better off without him. Find mom a really good divorce lawyer who will get her fair share of alimony and child support. Although dad’s probably going to be a deadbeat.

    Also, WHAT GIVES with that 2-page spread of Joey and dad in a restaurant? The waitress seems to have had dad’s face transplanted on!

    Not quite as horrific as the Cabbage Patch Homunculus in our last divorce book, but still WTF.

  3. I had a friend in grade school whose father lived in a hotel downtown. It all seemed very exotic. I had a sheltered life, I guess.

  4. I was too old for this book when I read it in high school, but the title was irresistible. The story and illustrations, less so. Dad’s dead weight, Joey! Don’t let him drag you down with him!

  5. Is Mom hungover on the first page? Joey looks like he’s trying to decide whether to get her a whiskey or the trash can.

    Also, ugh at “But the tears would not stop crying from her eyes.” Bad editor! No job for you!

  6. Cuffari’s illustrations were the kiss of death to any book in my library even twenty years ago. I always sort of liked them, but they dated quickly. The movie had Ike Eisenmann– sorry I missed that one! We weren’t allowed to watch television right after school, so missed most of these.

    1. “lives in a downtown hotel” made me think of bums and drunks, but he wears a necktie at the restaurant. Thanks for the illustrator’s name, I’ve seen them other places and they always brought a very specific time to mind, dark wood mansard roofs and smoked glass cieling lights.

  7. This book was very important when it first came out – and the ABC After School Special. It was one of the first kid’s book that dicussed divorce from a child’s perspective – at a time when no fault divorce was taking off and stigmas surrounding divorce were still very strong.
    okay – not well written. But at the time, it was landmark.
    I was a kid when it came out – and it helped bring the topic of divorce into conversation with friends. Divorce still had a strong stigma – yes, even for kids.
    Yes it is dated, but it has a place in historic collections of children’s literature

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