New book: Resident tells tale of father fighting for his son

William J. McGee

Married to the love of your life and starting a family, you can’t imagine things going better. However, things change and someone is filing for divorce. Emotions are running high as you fight for custody of your child. This is a story that is familiar all over the world, said William McGee.

The Milford resident has written a story following characters who have that same story to tell in Half the Child.

“It’s a topic that’s very important to me,” said McGee. “It’s written in first person from the perspective of the father … it’s basically Michael’s struggle to keep his son in his life.”

In Half the Child the main character Michael and his wife divorce and argue over who gets to keep custody of their son, Ben. The argument is brought to the courts, where both say they are the parent Ben should be with. The mother eventually kidnaps the child, and Michael struggles to find him. McGee said the story is based on made-up characters and made-up events, but it has a hint of reality.

The story “has to be credible, and you have to believe it,” said McGee. He teaches creative writing, and says that is what he tells his students. Even if you write fiction, it needs to be based on some truth.

According to a book summary: Over the course of the four summers in the story, the battle for Ben affects Michael’s career, education, finances, friendships, romantic life, physical health and emotional well-being. Michael faces bankruptcy, homelessness and depression. Yet Michael refuses to have a life apart from Ben.

Parental alienation is “something that affects hundreds of thousands of parents and families across the country,” he said.

McGee said when a couple breaks up and fights for custody of their child or children, “it’s detrimental when good, loving parents are cut from their lives.”

He recognizes that not all cases of separation result in such fierce fighting, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.

McGee, a trained journalist and professor, took about 10 years to complete this story — in between his other jobs.

“I did a lot of research on this issue,” said McGee. “This is something that was very close to my heart. This is an issue that affects mothers and fathers.”

He looks at Half the Child as a love story between a father and son. Readers don’t see much of the mother in the story. It isn’t about the divorce, it’s about what happens after.

“I didn’t want to write about Michael and his wife. I wanted to write about Michael and his son,” McGee said.

McGee finds it easy to change from writing fiction and nonfiction. McGee is a freelance journalist for Consumer Monthly, writing on airline safety. He also writes a monthly column in USA Today.

McGee has another published book on shelves, Attention All Passengers, which is a real look at the airline industry.

McGee used his knowledge of the airline industry to incorporate some details into Half the Child. Michael is a trained air traffic controller. He said the people who are trained for that job are taught to block everything else out, and to just focus on the job at hand. In the story, Michael, he said, is one of the best controllers, but in the midst of trying to have his child in his life, he makes some critical errors.

Readers can find Half the Child on Amazon.com. McGee said he is available to give presentations on his book, as well. For more information, visit halfthechild.com.

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