Monday, December 30, 2019

Things My Son Needs to Know about the World

Title:  Things My Son Needs to Know about the World
Author:  Fredrik Backman
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2019. 208 pages.
ISBN:  1501196863 / 978-1501196867

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "To my son:  I want to apologize."

Favorite Quote:  "I just want you to know that I love you. Once you're older, you'll realize that I made an endless line of mistakes during your childhood, I know that. I've resigned myself to it. but I just want you to know that I did my very, very best. I left it all on the field. I gave this every ounce of everything I had."

I have read four previous books by Fredrik Backman. A Man Called Ove is still on my to read list I have rated three out of the four with five stars. In other words, I have loved most of the books. This one is no exception even though it is a completely different book.

This is a nonfiction collection of essays written about the same time as A Man Called Ove. The collection was released in Sweden several years ago. It is just this year being released in the United States. The essays, as the title suggests, are lessons for his son who was then very young. It would be interesting now to see what the young man has to say about these lessons. Actually, Fredrik Backman now has two children. It would be wonderful to know if his lessons remain the same.

As a parent myself, I find myself nodding along with many of the stories - laughing, reminiscing, and reflecting on my own parenting adventures. My favorite aspect of this book of lessons to a child from a father is the unequivocal love he displays for his wife - the mother of his children. ".. the reason I don't know much about love is that I've really only ever loved one woman. But every day with her is like being a pirate in a magical land far away full of adventures and treasures. Making her laugh is a bit like wearing rain boots that are a little too big and jumping into the deepest of puddles. I'm blunt and sharp and full of black and white. She's all my color."

It is clear that the love encompasses his wife and his children. "And when you dance, you and she... if I could choose one single moment to live inside for all eternity, it would be that."

The remaining lessons vary from the mundane to statements of love to philosophical lessons about equality and tolerance. At times, the book is corny and cheesy as you might expect in a collection as this one. At times, it is pensive and serious. "'s not easy to teach you what a man is. It's different things for different people. With different people." What shines through is the love and the recognition that we as parents may not always know what we are doing, but hopefully, we do the best we can.

In a world where negativity is so prevalent, I will take the positive message of love. "You and your mother are my greatest, most wonderful, scariest adventure. I'm amazed every day that you're still letting me follow along."

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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