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Young Adult Fiction Car & Road Trips

Old Man

by (author) David A. Poulsen

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2013
Car & Road Trips, Parents, Boys & Men
Recommended Age
12 to 15
Recommended Grade
7 to 10
Recommended Reading age
12 to 15
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


A trip with his estranged father changes Nate forever.

Commended for the Popular Paperback Young Adults Pick, 2014 and short-listed for the Forest of Reading - White Pine Award for Fiction, 2014
Just as summer vacation is about to arrive, Nate Huffman’s plans are unexpectedly shelved for the most unlikely of reasons: the reappearance of his estranged father. Not only is the old man back, he’s got this goofy idea about a road trip the two of them will take.
Nate finds himself in a pickup with a man he can’t stand. His father wants to reconnect, and he wants Nate to really understand him. Larry Huffman has chosen to make this happen by taking his son into his own past, which has the Vietnam War as its centrepiece.
As the two struggle their way through the jungle of the Ashau Valley, the old man relives the horror of the battle that changed him forever, and Nate undergoes changes of his own – and they experience something that goes far beyond what either of them expected.


About the author

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, professional cowboy, football coach, stage and film actor and—most of all—writer. His writing career began in earnest when his story The Welcomin’ won the 1984 Alberta Culture Short Story Competition. Now the author of 27 books, many for middle readers and young adults, David spends 60 to 80 days a year in classrooms and libraries across Canada (and beyond) as a visiting author/presenter. The UBC Creative Writing alumnus and former Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library recently made his inaugural foray into the world of adult crime fiction with Serpents Rising, the best-selling first book in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. There are now four titles in the series and the fourth—None So Deadly—hit bookstores in the spring of 2019. The Man Called Teacher, coming in 2019, is his first adult western. David lives on a small ranch in Alberta’s foothills where he and his wife Barb raise and train running-bred quarter horses for barrel racing competitions.

David A. Poulsen's profile page


  • Commended, Popular Paperback Young Adults Pick
  • Short-listed, Forest of Reading - White Pine Fiction

Editorial Reviews

[A] snappy, affecting YA-centered novel … Poulsen handles heavy material with sophistication.

Publishers Weekly

Many surprises await both Nate and the reader; Poulsen crafts a story that has lots of twists and turns but which remains completely authentic. Nate’s voice, sometimes blunt, always honest, starts strong and continues through the story, keeping the reader completely engaged with his thoughts and his discoveries… Gripping, revealing, funny and sad, Old Man will be welcomed by Poulsen fans everywhere.

Nate’s perspectives and sympathies are deepened by his journey, as will be the reader’s.

National Post

Old Man is tightly written and fast-paced. It’s a book about relationships and about war, and it will appeal to teenage boys because the heavy themes are conveyed through Nate’s engaging and humorous voice.

Canadian Materials magazine

Poulsen has created something truly unique with this one – a juvenile fiction novel that could easily be flogged as an adult read as well. I'd like to give Poulsen a big pat on the back for creating a story that truly captures the strangeness of families and the demons people carry around and the miracle of healing.

The Rooster, online review

Nate is a totally authentic teenage character, from his shyness in showing affection for his devoted mother, to his enthusiasm for an attractive Australian tourist, to his surliness with the father who abandoned him. Her wears his heart on his sleeve, and his vulnerability is endearing.

Resource Links

How two people with a connection long severed come to know each other again is one of the intriguing aspects of this novel, and Poulsen's approach is sure and steady.

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

…this is a grown-up book about the horrors of war and a boy discovering the grey areas of life, told in an irresistible, realistic young voice.

Quill & Quire

User Reviews

Old Man

When reading David A Poulsen's latest teen/adult crossover novel, Old Man, the reader first sees the author's note that states, "This book is not for everyone." It is part of Poulsen's warning about the book's realism in dealing with a world 'out there' from a time 'back then'. Old Man is, in fact, a gritty drama about fifteen year-old Nate Huffman preparing for life, the past ten years without his father. We learn in the novel's first lines that Nate "...never call him Dad again."

Poulsen pulls the reader into the life flow seen through Nate's eyes. I was pulled back to that time, being a teen and dammit we did find humour in life which helped with the angst and pain.Poulsen's humour , subtle at times, always sitting on the ledge waiting to leap into Nate's life brings realism to situations, to plans and hopes that are usually more hope than plan. I was drawn into the father son reunion, the cautious steps as they struggle first with who the other is and later with the saddle burr, 'why'. Nate's world is given a reality check in a trip with his father, to see, maybe understand. The horror and fear are real, as through Nate we learn from Nate's father and others in this journey to a place in time where humanity experienced a great loss; 'humanity' itself. There are powerful moments of revelation, of terror without gratuitous violence but with the soul branding fear that was seared into many lives is vividly exposed.

How does the 'trip' change Nate's life? Is there a moment when all is forgiven, past indiscretions appeased? Chapter One's, I will never called him "Dad" bears repeating as it was always in the back of this readers mind. Subtly, as a good book enables, and this is certainly that-the reader is swept up into
the main characters life seen through a teens eyes.

I take polite issue with Poulsen's note that his book is not for everyone; maybe, but it does have something for everyone...Old Man is a very good read.

David R. Nichol
Saskatoon Writer

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