On the Bookshelf -Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier

I am a voracious reader. I love words. I love stories. I love ideas. I love to escape into a good book.

Some of what I read is for pure pleasure, some of what I read is to help me be better at my church job, some of what I read is to expand my understanding of our world, and some of what I read is to help me figure out how to help my polar opposite kids navigate this world. When I come across a book that I think is insightful or important in some way, I am going to share it with you all – just a glimpse of what is on my bookshelf.

“Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations” by Ron Fournier

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My son is a current events and news junkie. It has been a challenge for us to find outlets for his interest that provide balanced and non-sensationalized reporting. The only televised news he is allowed to watch without parental supervision is the News Hour on PBS. Several months ago he was watching the News Hour and I happened to walk through the room during an interview with journalist Ron Fournier. They were talking about his recently published book “Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations.”

I can’t say for certain what caught my attention and caused me to stop and listen. But something did, and I found myself standing in a room with my son who lives with a level 1 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and my husband, listening to Ron Fournier talk about his own son who lives with ASD and his own emotional and physical journeys that changed his relationship with his son. I was riveted, and I instantly went to my computer and added the book to my Kindle.

Several weeks went by before I had an opportunity to begin reading the book, but when I did I found it difficult to stop reading.

Ron Fournier is a long time political columnist. He started his career in Arkansas covering then governor Bill Clinton, followed President Clinton to Washington DC, and covered the next 3 presidential administrations. He is also a son, a husband and a father to 3 including his son Tyler. This book is part fantastic reporting and part memoir. It is full of historical and social background, current research on childhood development and interviews with other parents; right alongside a recounting of his deeply personal journey to a stronger relationship with his adolescent son.

The book is set against a backdrop of a series of road trips Fournier and his son Tyler take to visit the homes and libraries of a handful of past US Presidents, including personal meetings for Tyler with both President Clinton and President GW Bush. Along the way, Fournier and Tyler forge a deeper and more empathetic relationship.

As I read, I could see so much of my own son in Tyler and so much of myself in Fournier. This is a book that broke my heart and then filled it back up again. “Love That Boy” is everything I write about on this blog – Family. Real. Raw. Broken. Beautiful. It is brutally honest look at parenting – not just parenting a neuro-divergent child, but parenting any child. It is a story of struggle and grit and love, and a family coming out stronger on the other side. It is a love letter to the relationsip bewteen parents and children everywhere – with the added bonus of some really amazing reporting on history, society and presidents.

 

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