If the measure of a good book is its afterburn, Access Denied is a great book.
Thought-provoking, honest, extraordinary, revealing. A damning indictment of the child support agency and family courts.
A quite extraordinary true story.
He had a daughter for seven years.... Then found out she wasn't his....
You won't believe what happens next!
©2013 David E. Gates (P)2016 David E. Gates
A man with a child in his ears.
It’s very rare that a book has an effect on me as substantial as Access Denied. Earlier I sat down to listen to the opening few chapters and a little over four hours later I’ve finished it. I have to put my cards on the table and say that I knew Dave, the author, in the early years of the story and have met the main characters. Sadly I lost touch with him while the extraordinary events actually unfurled. At the time I knew him this was a mundane story of a split modern family like thousands of others. That’s the honesty part over but note that this isn’t the Amazon Vine program I bought my copy without Dave even knowing about it.
That said, as I read the reviews on Amazon.co.uk it quickly became obvious that this book is touching all manner of people in similar ways. This is a story that describes the precious relationship between a father and daughter and shines a stark light on the sheer inhumanity of the government departments set up to manage things when they go wrong. It shows how fantastic relationships between people can be and how, when things break down they can get twisted into something awful. It brings us this beautiful relationship which is as strong as any parent-child bond but fatally flawed by a terrible lie that underpinned it.
Dave chose to narrate this book himself and he does a very decent job of it. Why five stars though? Well this is a story you need to hear from him, understanding that the guy talking is the guy being talked about gives this a genuine authenticity. Dave doesn’t paint himself as a saint, he doesn’t pretend that he was perfect and in fact I wonder if the verbatim communications included reveal more than he realises. The real point is though that this is an ordinary guy being put through hell by a situation so unnecessary and seemingly so unreal.
So, my review undoubtedly has bias in it but read the Amazon reviews and you will see that this is a genuinely powerful book. It’s a book that reveals much about modern life and will have you both tearful and angry by the end. Even if you have a heart of steel, this ought to melt it or at least soften the edges a bit.
Since finishing I’ve told Dave that I haven’t reacted to a book like this since reading To Kill A Mockingbird as a kid. Frankly the thought of bracketing the gobby but likeable git from Portsmouth I used to know with Harper Lee is ludicrous, but after reading “Access Denied” I *needed* a laugh!
Don’t hesitate with this one. Just get it.
David met Meg at work and they soon started dating. After some time of ups and downs Meg gets pregnant, which fills David with joy. But Meg and David start having problems and decide to separate, which will cause multiple issues to their relationship with their child, especially to David. He will start to live a nightmare in which the CSA is involved, just to find out that Kelly is not his daughter but someone else's. Instead of apologizing, Meg and the CSA appear to mock David and he will have to suffer the consequences for several years.
I did not want to disclose that Kelly was not David's child, but as the blurb clearly states this out, I did not see why I should not. Nevertheless, I think it would be better for the reader not to know this detail, which is revealed in the second half of the book.
The story in this book is terribly heartbreaking and one can only imagine what David had to suffer in order to try to have a semi-normal life. I do not like to judge the character's actions when reviewing memoirs, but I find that it is almost unavoidable, especially in unfair situations like this one. It is true that David may have also made mistakes, but in this story it is clear that he was the losing party.
The story is very powerful but I think it would have benefited from having an editor. There were a lot of meaningless details (not to David I am sure, but meaningless to the reader) that just contributed to the fact that David was running in circles with the CSA. For me those parts were a bit confusing and I got lost among acronyms, letter to and fro, and other details.
The book is read by David himself, and I am sure this has to be a quite hard but liberating experience. It is clear that he is not a professional narrator but in this way we get all the powerful feelings transmitted by the same person who lived this story. There is a break in the narration at point 1:51:07, where there is something missing. Nevertheless it does not affect the comprehension of the story.
I just would like to end this review clarifying that the reader should not expect a polished literary novel but a real testimony about a very delicate situation and how organisms like the CSA can make things more difficult and unfair, having the individual little possibility of making a difference in the short-run.
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog
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