My Father’s Son

My Father’s Son


When Nathan’s father, a decorated Navy SEAL, is killed in combat, he must rely on his father’s teammates for direction while learning to become a man. The normal struggles of adolescence are amplified while growing up in the shadow of a war hero, and a young man’s future hangs in the balance. No one is safe from the scars of war in this funny, heart-wrenching, poignant novel.



“…Symonds is able to convey what may be the strongest coping mechanism there is among military families.” “The SEAL credo is that no SEAL, living or dead, will be left behind. That extends to the families, which Symonds perfectly captures…” -Cleveland Plain Dealer

“In the tradition of Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini, I think Andy Symonds’ book will soon become a classic.” “I picked it up the day after Thanksgiving, and I could not put it down.” “I would argue that what Andy Symonds has written is a great work of literature, filled with complex characters. ” “…I’m fairly certain I got some dust in my eyes while reading…” “…one of the best works of military fiction I have read. -Foreign Policy

“My Father’s Son” is a deeply moving novel laced with humor and poignancy from beginning to end. Author Andy Symonds has an entertaining knack for original storytelling.” -Midwest Book Review

“A great read for anyone interested in Spec-Ops. This book offers an inside look at the unsung heroes; the family members of the SEALs. Every American that reads this book will see that real sacrifices aren’t all made on the battlefield. I know that every reader will be moved and inspired by My Father’s Son.” -Dr. Howard Wasdin, SEAL Team 6 sniper and best-selling author

“…told with convincing authority.” “Nathan’s voice rings true enough that it’s often challenging to remember it’s fictional.” “Were this book written by an active or recently retired SEAL, presumably it would be subject to a security review.” -The Virginian-Pilot

“Andy Symonds did an incredible job with the accuracy of the Navy, NSW, and NSW families. It was a great read with unexpected twists and turns that kept my attention. I highly recommend My Father’s Son…” -Robin Andersen, retired Naval officer, PTSD advocate and mother of Navy SEAL Rob Guzzo

“It is a book that needed to be written and should be read, whether you believe in war or not.””Although a book containing a lot of sadness and pain it is not a depressing read. Throughout, it contains hope;” “Andy Symonds has captured the hopes, disappointments and confusions of a teenage boy…” “Beautifully written…” “It is a book with depth…” -Carol Sampson Book Blog

39 reviews for My Father’s Son

  1. Ballast Books

    I would highly recommend this book to everyone and anyone who has ever thought of the families that are left behind after one of our Warriors fall. Symonds beautifully captures the often too real effects that can happen to the children and families of an active member of our Armed Forces whom is killed in action or severely wounded.
    The book is written from the perspective of 13 year old Nathan Butler, who loses his SEAL Father after he is mortally wounded in battle. Supported by his Father’s best friends, SEALs Spencer and Bull, Nathan seems to be handling things quite well. Yet, when they are redeployed and Nathan no longer has their physical support, he begins to spiral into a new world, comprised of alcohol, drugs and pills. Even after they return and set him straight, as soon as they leave, again he falls. A tale of rehabilitation and redemption follow young Nathan, even through more pain and unimaginable loss.
    5 Stars!

  2. Ballast Books

    Twice in my life have I come really close to not making it to the next day. Last night was mindful of those two times. The most recent was the day my wife was killed in an auto accident 2/11/14 and that experience was brought to the fore by Andy Symonds book MY FATHER’S SON. One instance in ch 5 where the father is dying was so mindful of my experience I closed the book and it will be some time before I pick the book up again.
    The man is dying of wounds and his life closes on a scene which becomes dim at the edges and finally fades. In our accident I was knocked unconscious and a scene appeared which dimmed at the edges, got dimmer and dimmer and then turned to a bright blue but again dimmed to gray. I soon regained consciousness but the scene has stayed with me. When this comes back at me, through thought or, in this case a book, I don’t sleep and the book or thought has to be put away for a bit. Today I will hit for someplace–who knows where–to kill some time before returning to our abode in Summerlin. To put it mildly, this has scared the living crap out of me. Andy has done a masterful job of description. Thank you Andy, your work has really made an impression and that’s what literature is all about

  3. Ballast Books

    Not only does this book provide the reader with a detailed glimpse at the emotional and physical toll that the SEAL lifestyle places on both the Commandos and their families, but it also tells the story of a boy who struggles to do the right thing in the aftermath of his father’s death. Moreover, it speaks to everyone at a deeper level, regardless of military affiliation, especially if you have lost a parent or child, or simply have children of your own.

    Symonds does an outstanding job of describing the emotional state of the characters, so much that you can’t help but feel what they are feeling as you read each page. In addition, Symonds is able to “pull back the curtain” into the day-to-day life of a SEAL through vivid storytelling, which encompasses humorous anecdotes as well as raw emotional turmoil. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone who appreciates top notch writing and gripping story-telling.

  4. Ballast Books

    The characters in this book are so richly layered and developed while never losing the dependence on each other. This story touches on every emotion and how loss effects everyone at different depths. Nathan memories are interwoven beautifully into his life as he is faced with learning about himself and learning to accept the ever presence of his fathers shadow. Spencer is larger than life, eking every ounce out of each moment while trying to help Nathan become the young man his father imagined he would be. You can’t help getting attached to the characters. Yes, you will cry reading this book.

  5. Ballast Books

    As a father of four boys and one serving in the Navy now, I felt this book told the story of the men that influence us and the impact they have on our search for purpose. I feel that Nate’s journey is not unique to him, because all boys are searching for their purpose and deeper meaning of life especially through those difficult years as teenagers. The book did a great job of illustrating the individuals that shape our lives, these men just happened to be Navy Seals with a unique set values around service and loyalty to each other and their country. I will share this with my High School boys.

  6. Ballast Books

    I happen to know this author and am familiar with his life as a military family member. Andy Symonds’ insight and knowledge of military life brings this book to life as only someone who has lived it can. Even so, most of us never see behind the veil of the most elite of military forces, but we get a peek into it within My Father’s Son. This book captures the everyday challenges of life in the military environment from many perspectives and gives insight into the special challenges faced by Navy Seals. You won’t look at them or their families the same after reading this book. Well written and a great read.

  7. Ballast Books

    This was such an enjoyable read! Although this book explores the tragic loss of a family, its endearing characters and touching accounts of love and loyalty shine through the heartache. The descriptions feel very authentic, yet also artfully written. I was completely absorbed with this story and Nathan’s journey. I’m definitely watching out for what Symonds will write next.

  8. Ballast Books

    My Father’s Son is a terrific read that catches you from the get go and makes you want to keep coming back for more. It provides a well written and enjoyable insight into the life of one young boy. It is an impactful reminder of the sacrifice not only of those in the military but their families as well. Don’t miss this great read. Looking forward to more from this first time writer.

  9. Ballast Books

    I am an avid reader and absolutely enjoyed Andy’s writing style. The story was compelling, impactful and left me wondering if it was a true story. Without question, the loss of a parental figure, especially a Father can leave a void in a young man’s life. Andy accurately captured this void and the challenges that arose as a result. It was a quick read as I was eager to see how the story would end. Andy’s descriptive writing style enabled me to visualize the story as it unfolded!

  10. Ballast Books

    I absolutely loved this book! I am a military sibling so I’ve kind of harden myself to the realities of this life, but this book had me in tears, it had me laughing and every emotion in between. The author did a great job bringing the reality that military families face everyday to light, and an amazing job highlighting the brotherhood and bond that is formed in the military. I highly recommend this. Hope their can be a follow up book 🙂

  11. Ballast Books

    What a ride! This book was fantastic. The personalities were well developed and authentic. The action was exciting. The main character was very real. This book is highly recommended even if you’re not a fan of the armed services.

  12. Ballast Books

    I just finished reading My Father’s Son and I am overwhelmed with emotions. Reading the book brought me on a roller coaster of emotions that made me both laugh and cry. This book is a real page turner and I cannot wait to see what Andy Symonds will introduce to us next!

  13. Ballast Books

    Heartfelt. Gripping. Will make you laugh and cry. Would definitely recommend. I couldn’t put it down once I started. .

  14. Ballast Books

    A must read.

  15. Ballast Books

    I recommend that anyone and everyone read this book! I couldn’t stop reading this book once I started. Prepare to experience tears (you may need a few boxes of tissue) amongst giggles! Best book I’ve ever read.

  16. Ballast Books

    My nephew thought I would enjoy this book, and was he ever right ! I can certainly understand all the 5 star ratings,
    and here’s one more.. Very well written. Will be watching for this author’s next one.

  17. Ballast Books

    Fantastic read. Mr. Symonds obviously did his research when writing this book. When I finished reading, I didn’t want the story to end, left me wondering what was next. Absolutely loved the book and definitely one that I will re-read.

  18. Ballast Books

    Great story! I couldn’t put it down.

  19. Ballast Books

    Amazing book!

  20. Ballast Books

    This is a very well written novel about a young boy whose father is a Navy SEAL. The author, Andy Symonds, is the son of a Navy veteran. He wrote this book with the input of a retired Navy SEAL. You can be assured with this type of inside knowledge from both the author and the retired Navy SEAL that the book will be true to the lives of a military family. This book has been endorsed by the Special Operations community.

    Nate is only 13 years old when his beloved father, a Navy SEAL, is killed in action. His father’s fellow SEALs step up to be there for Nate and his mother and younger sister and help them as they grieve and struggle to go on. The book fluctuates between Nate’s life from age 13 to adulthood and also memories of past days that Nate and his father had spent together. Parts of the book are narrated by Nate’s father during combat, those parts being truly heart wrenching.

    The author very movingly writes about the strain and worry that are daily parts of the lives of a SEAL’s family. They dread the ringing of a doorbell and what news it will bring. They live every day with the knowledge that their loved one may not make it through that day. And once that dreaded doorbell does ring, the family members must pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. It was truly beautiful to watch as the other SEALs became family members and did their best to fill the empty space their friend had left in his loved one’s hearts and lives. I often had to remind myself that this is a novel and not a memoir as it’s so realistic.

    The book not only highlights the sacrifices made by SEALs and their families but also talks about PTSD and survivor’s guilt. While the general public may feel they know how hard it is on these men and their families, this book will open many people’s eyes to what the defense of this country costs these men and their loved ones.

  21. Ballast Books

    My Fathers Son by Andy Symonds, was received direct from the authors publicist to review prior to interviewing the author. Being retired military myself, I can only hope my children someday can write such a poignant book about their lives growing up around the world. Luckily for my whole family my career didn’t end the same way. That being said, anyone who was a military careerist or their family member, should read this book. It will definitely bring back memories you may have forgotten. i am not going to delve into the storyline, as mostly it has already been stated by me, a military brat growing up in a Navy SEAL’s household. This is one of the better memoirs of the year, though I am fully aware than I am biased due to my military history.

  22. Ballast Books

    My Father’s Son by Andy Symonds gives such an insight and understanding to the difficult and emotional road a young teenage man must travel when his father, a Navy SEAL, is killed in combat. The tragic consequences of war linger on and affect all family members in very different ways. Through Andy’s words we feel the pain and wrestle with the struggles along with Nathan as he deals with the abrupt and cruel loss of his father. We also understand how the deep love of his father helps hum continue getting through the “normal” and difficult days of a teenage boy. Even with his father no longer physically with him, the strong bond between father and son lives on and continues to give Nathan guidance and direction.
    Andy, your words stirred many emotions and made me feel what Nathan was experiencing. I could feel the highs and lows, and the love and anger. I look forward to reading future works by Andy Symonds.

  23. Ballast Books

    My Fathers Son was very unique and different from any other military book I have ever read such as None Braver, Guardian Angel, and No Room for Error, etc. It was by far one of the most inspiring books I have ever read while also getting me to truly think about life and the lives of those around me. This book changed the way that I now look and appreciate everything and everyone around me. I know that later in life I will be able to look at the point that I read this book and remember the thoughts that went through my head at that time as they truly made me contemplate the emotions that i felt while reading it, and gave me such strong emotions toward the book. A very well written book that I suggest you read if you are thinking about joining the military. There is not a single thing that i can think of to say about it that is bad only good from here.
    5/5 10/10 100/100 1000/1000 etc.

  24. Ballast Books

    It’s easy to tell that Symonds knows how to write. As an American with little-to-no familiarity with the sort of familial bonding that comes from being in the military or a part of a military family, I was shocked at how connected I felt to the Butler family. I think the most impressive part of Symonds storytelling was the dialogue. He knows how to write a conversation very well, which is usually the hardest part for an author.

  25. Ballast Books

    It’s common to find a story about heroes who have put their lives on the line and the daily struggle they live with shall they make it out alive. What isn’t common is to find a medium that enables you to feel the sacrifice and pain that comes in exchange for the courageous actions of these men and women. It’s even less common to hear about the scars left behind and passed onto the survivors of a fallen hero. My Father’s Son was a heartfelt story that is rarely told about the burden that many sons carry daily and the struggle that they face to move forward, living in an honorable way and coming to their own as an adult. This book was a fantastic read even for someone who had not previously read Special Ops/Navy SEAL books, and comes highly recommended.

  26. Ballast Books

    I finished this book a few nights ago and I LOVED it!! As a retired Naval Officer with a former husband and son who are former SEALS, I have a tendency to critique books for accuracy on certain subject matter. It’s unintentional, just happens spontaneously and sometimes it gets in the way of reading a book or watching a show. I’m no expert on Naval Special Warfare, but from my perspective Andy Symonds did an incredible job with the accuracy of the Navy, NSW, and NSW families. It was a great read with unexpected twists and turns that keep my attention. I highly recommend My Father’s Son to anyone who has an interest in the military and how service to our country affects the entire family!!

  27. Ballast Books

    My Father’s Son is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It is a very compelling read. Made me laugh. Made me cry. Made me think.
    Andy Symonds does a masterful job of bringing to life the struggles of those who serve—soldiers & their families. Those who serve often say the hardest part is not the fear of the enemy or harsh conditions, the hardest part is the separation from family. The unsung heroes of the military are frequently the families left behind.
    I couldn’t put this book down- it was a riveting story. I would recommend this book because the story is a great tribute to our servicemen, their families and the cost war brings. Thanks Andy!!!

  28. Ballast Books

    Very well written book. My Fathers Son captures the readers attention from the beginning and never stops. It will make you laugh and cry and want to read it over and over again. Highly recommend this book to everyone!

  29. Ballast Books

    This story written from the point of view of an adolescent boy’s journey from boyhood to man gives us insight into the sacrifices that military families make each and every day for us. This reminds us that we take for granted our complacent lives and should be thankful for what others endure so that we can have a peaceful, secure family routine. The emotional turmoil that the characters experience are brought to life through the author’s writing and depiction of them in a personal, heartfelt way that makes you feel like you have known them forever. This is a book I would read more than once and recommend it to all.

  30. Ballast Books

    My Father’s Son is an incredibly well written book that brought to life the hardships faced by a teenage boy whose Navy Seal father is killed in combat. Written in vivid detail, the author takes the reader on a roll coaster ride of emotions as Nathan faces life challenges without a male role model. The story skillfully weaves the reader back and forth through time and neatly ties Nathan’s father’s life as a Seal and his ultimate sacrifice to the impact on Nathan and family and the decisions he makes. This is a can’t miss book and I look forward to reading it again.

  31. Ballast Books

    A great read!!….its HOLDEN CAULFIELD meets RICHARD MARCINKO!!!….who knew that teenage Nate was so introspective yet determined at the same time….really enjoyed the ending…this novel is a wonderful tribute to families of our warriors ho are killed in action:—the OTHER HEROES!!……a must-read…

  32. Ballast Books

    the book was great I had found my self getting lost with the way of words and also I couldn’t help but get attached to the family in the book! it is a great read and it will teach y’all a lot that I can promise you! so please go check this book out on Amazon it is well worth the 20 dollars!!
    my rate would be a solid 5!

  33. Ballast Books

    Gripping and from a perspective not usually explored in such depth. I hope there is a sequel to continue on with an inside look into Nate’s journey of fulfilling the dream imprinted on his DNA

  34. Ballast Books

    I liked it all. Probably a tough thing to get through for such a young man being around all of that.

  35. Ballast Books

    Fantastic read! Amazing new author that I can’t wait to see what he produces next!

  36. Ballast Books

    Great book. I felt everything like it was happening to me. I find myself wanting to know more. I want to know everything about how they’re doing now

  37. Ballast Books

    Loved the book! Was totally sucked in. Could not put it down! Look forward to more books in the future!

  38. Ballast Books

    This was a fantastic book. Well written and pulled you in right from the beginning. I can’t wait to read what Mr. Symonds writes next I am sure that it will be equally as good.

  39. Ballast Books

    Lost a few nights sleep reading this into the wee hours. Make sure you don’t have anything to do the next day

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