Read Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger Online

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A remarkable memoir from the best-selling author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.Buzz Bissinger’s twins were born three minutes—and a world—apart. Gerry, the older one, is a graduate student at Penn, preparing to become a teacher. His brother Zach has spent his life attending special schools. He’ll never drive a car, or kiss a girl, or live by himself. HeA remarkable memoir from the best-selling author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.Buzz Bissinger’s twins were born three minutes—and a world—apart. Gerry, the older one, is a graduate student at Penn, preparing to become a teacher. His brother Zach has spent his life attending special schools. He’ll never drive a car, or kiss a girl, or live by himself. He is a savant, challenged by serious intellectual deficits but also blessed with rare talents: an astonishing memory, a dazzling knack for navigation, and a reflexive honesty that can make him both socially awkward and surprisingly wise.Buzz realized that while he had always been an attentive father, he didn’t really understand what it was like to be Zach. So one summer night Buzz and Zach hit the road to revisit all the places they have lived together during Zach’s twenty-four years. Zach revels in his memories, and Buzz hopes this journey into their shared past will bring them closer and reveal to him the mysterious workings of his son’s mind and heart. The trip also becomes Buzz's personal journey, yielding revelations about his own parents, the price of ambition, and its effect on his twins.As father and son journey from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, they see the best and worst of America and each other. Ultimately, Buzz gains a new and uplifting wisdom, realizing that Zach’s worldview has a sturdy logic of its own: a logic that deserves the greatest respect. And with the help of Zach’s twin, Gerry, Buzz learns an even more vital lesson about Zach: character transcends intellect. We come to see Zach as he truly is: patient, fearless, perceptive, kind—a man of excellent character....

Title : Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780547816562
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son Reviews

  • Kurt
    2019-02-10 06:33

    This book is a perfect Father's Day gift: a road trip story of a man trying to bond with his son, while reflecting on his own father, his other significant relationships, and his personal triumphs and failures. It is heartfelt and powerful and a little sappy and a little funny.. and I love it passionately.The skeleton of Bissinger's book is a road trip that he designs as an opportunity to get to know one of his sons, a young man who suffered brain damage at birth and grew up Different. Zach is a complicated person, mentally retarded on certain tests but with an uncanny memory for facts, and Buzz creates an epic journey to revisit places from Zach's history. Buzz acknowledges early in the book that the trip is a selfish one, considering the relational pressures of exhausting days in a minivan together and Zach's strong preference for routine, but he has undeniably unselfish goals as well. The trip turns out to be something beautiful, with the moments of transcendence and disaster that accompany any good long drive, and some fascinating glimpses into a rapidly developing father-son relationship.One of the surprising strengths of the book is Buzz's relentless honesty. He makes hard admissions about the difficulties of having a son with disabilities, especially a son whose twin brother is Normal. He transcribes conversations where his temper is disturbing or where he doesn't have the right answer to one of Zach's questions or where he isn't doing the Right Thing in a given situation. I found myself angry with Buzz on multiple occasions, as he would build up his hopes for a plan that could only end in catastrophe, only to recognize his error and start to make it again. The honesty, though, really hit me in those moments - Buzz's imperfections and failures helped me understand his perspectives on fatherhood more than a sanitized vacation summary would have.This is an amazing book, a father's heart poured onto paper with all of its flaws on display. It will encourage anyone who cares for individuals who are Different, and anyone who has ever been a father (or a son) should read it.

  • Cynthia
    2019-02-18 23:43

    This is the kind of book I would normally devour. Unfortunately, I didn't respond that way to this book. While I appreciate how incredibly tough it must be for the author to have a son with significant brain issues (particularly since this son has a "normal" twin brother), the author comes across as terribly self-absorbed and with many, many (self-admitted) issues of his own. The book is ostensibly about the author and son's cross-country drive where they could rediscover old haunts and experience significant bonding moments, but the son is not thrilled about the trip, and, oddly enough, the author is not very thrilled about it either. The author is often out of control with his son and many times admits that he knew the trip would turn out this way and be exceedingly difficult. The author does reach some poignant conclusions about his son, all very touching and rewarding, but the author's negativity and frequent use of questionable language override those conclusions. I had trouble finishing the book and felt very disappointed by the end.

  • Overrated Parenting
    2019-02-20 00:44

    Back in the 1970's Buzz Bissinger, best known for the book Friday Night Lights, watched as his twin boys were born 13.5 weeks early and three minutes and three ounces apart. And although it doesn't seem like it should, those three minutes and three ounces made all the difference to you younger twin, Zach. Because of them, Zach, unlike his brother Gerry, suffered irreparable trace brain damage that have left him mentally retarded, unable to process the abstract, but with a savant's memory, especially in the field of calendaring. This book chronicles a road trip Zach and Buzz made one year to all of the places in the country they had once lived. For Zach, it's a pleasurable chance to visit places and people he wants knew (and still remembers as if it were yesterday), and although he enjoys the trip, he would have rather flown. For Buzz the trip is a much more complicated endeavor that has him trying to reconcile the guilt and difficulties he's had not just with a child with special needs but with his parenting and relationships in general.And that is where the bulk of the book lies. The road trip provides the metaphorical journey and the setting for various revelations and epiphanies, but real the heart of the book is Buzz coming to grips with his own perceived flaws: his vanity, his insecurities, and his guilt that he still can not set aside the preconceived notions of what a "son" should be as opposed to the son he actually has. When worded that way, the book sounds harsh, and Buzz is harsh on himself. There is no hiding behind his pen; every gut-wrenching, heart-breaking feeling is explored and analyzed, sometimes with devastating consequences. It's one of the most honest, and hard-to-read memoirs I've ever read, yet I had trouble putting it down.

  • Suzy
    2019-02-15 02:01

    Definitely worth a read. I found this book on my mom's shelf, one of dozens of books given to her by a dear bookish friend. Basically this friend (who recently passed away) would show up for lunch dates with a paper bag full of "books you have to read". It was overwhelming to my mom, so she would always offer me as many free books as I would like on my visits. Jackpot! Mom said she had started Father's Day and didn't like it, but I suspect what she didn't like was Bissinger's language. I wasn't too fond of his profane outbursts either, but I came to admire Bissinger enough as a writer and a person as I read this book that I purchased Friday Night Lights (loved the TV show) and am beginning it now. Why admire Bissinger as a writer? He has tremendous command of storytelling and the written word. His writing is at once informative, raw, witty, and vulnerable. Why admire him as a person? Some have said this book is potentially an attention-getting vehicle for Bissinger. Some have called it a pity party. What if we are just not used to people being vulnerable? I think that is the case. Bissinger is willing to admit that he has suffered embarrassment as a result of having a mentally challenged son. Call it what you will... mentally retarded, savant, disadvantaged, challenged... Bissinger is vulnerable enough to talk about emotions he simultaneously owns and is shamed by. I think Bissinger raises a rallying cry here for parents who are facing the same difficult task of a lifetime raising an adult child - at a time when other parents are kicking little eaglets out of the nest, Bissinger and others are facing the reality of old age and a still-dependant child. There will be no empty nest. Maybe there are readers out there who need to know they are not alone. I appreciate vulnerability. Bissinger offers it in spades. I don't always like where it leads him. He does have impetuous tirades of what I would consider sophomoric language and, yes, pity parties. But when I take a look at my own life, for far lesser problems I can at times become equally childish. I don't know... I have to hand it to a guy like Bissinger who is willing to face his demons head on and then air it out for others to see... and hopefully benefit from.

  • Kasa Cotugno
    2019-01-21 04:39

    Buzz Bissinger was blessed with being the father of twins, and some would say cursed since Zack, the younger by 3 minutes, was brain damaged at birth. But these are special people, and despite splitting from his wife shortly after this traumatic event, Bissinger shared fully in his sons' development and lives. When Zack is 25, the two of them go on a trip to visit places they'd lived. Although developmentally challenged, Zack possesses several astounding talents, a gift for navigation being one of them. His love for maps coupled with his astounding powers of recall make his presence in the passenger seat essential, but he demonstrates to his father also an ability to navigate the human heart, unweaving the mysteries of the tangle of highways around Chicago and Phoenix, among others, and talking his father through several emotional meltdowns. Bissinger is remarkably candid and generous with his personal revelations, also his realization that Zack is trying to live as independently as he can despite his disabilities. Letting go is difficult under most circumstances, but under these, more than ever. About 2/3 of the way through the book the two visit Odessa, Texas, where they lived while Bissinger was writing Friday Night Lights. He comments that every person has one story in them, and FNL was his. I disagree. His generosity and openness coupled with his journalistic talent for expression that he shows in Father's Day prove he has many more stories to share with us.

  • Kathleen
    2019-02-01 06:39

    Buzz Bissinger certainly can write. Although his background is in newspaper reporting, he does an excellent job in sustaining a far longer narrative. This is the first book of his I have read, although he is rather well-known for Friday Night Lights. I do plan on reading his other books because of the pure pleasure of reading such a good writer.The book this reminds me the most of, however, is Tuesdays With Morrie. It seems artificial. I don't believe that it took Bissinger 25 years and a cross-country trip to make peace with the reality of the life of his son, who suffered brain damage at birth, just as I don't believe Mitch Albom's overrated story. In the book, Bissinger has Albom's same charmingly self-deprecating quality about his emotional failings and broken relationships that litter his past. Normal human growth takes a backseat to newspaper career ambitions. Maybe I've just known too many newspaper reporters and am too cynical myself, but the self-portrait Bissinger paints of himself is so unappealing that he doesn't seem capable of the insights he professes to have. He does seem capable of knowing he's supposed to have them, however, and that's all that matters when trying to advance a career. Or sell books.

  • Jess
    2019-02-13 01:49

    Buzz Bissinger's twin boys were born 13 weeks early, weighing less than two pounds. One of his sons, Zach, suffers brain damage. As a result, Zach ends up severely mentally impaired. This memoir is about Bissinger's quest to come to grips with who his son is. Bissinger and Zach embark on a cross-country road trip during which father learns much about son and himself. Bissinger's portrayal of his relationship with his son is raw, honest and real. I admired the author's courage in conveying in an honest way mistakes he has made as well as his conflicted feelings about his son. Ultimately, the book was an uplifting read, and I'm happy I read it.

  • Kristin Strong
    2019-01-20 08:02

    I picked this up because I heard the author on NPR and was intrigued by the premise: A writer, Buzz Bissinger, takes his developmentally disabled adult son, Zach, on a cross-country road trip, hoping for an epiphany or at least a few discoveries about the son on the way. Woven into the road-book plot are glimpses of the author's and his family's past, the birth of Zach and his twin brother Gerry (when the three minutes between the boys' exits from the womb and even the way they lay within it made all the difference in their future prospects), and the inner workings of the author's mind and soul.Bissinger dearly loves Zach but laments his lack of understanding of his son. He is able to enumerate the many failings of Zach's intellect and the things he's been condemned never to do (marry, live on his own, go to college), but he's less able to see the benefits of the gifts Zach does have -- and the gifts he gives to those he knows. Zach is a savant, a person with limited intellectual capacity who nevertheless possesses astounding abilities in one or more areas. Zach's areas are memory and calendaring. Give Zach a date -- say, April 7, 1982 -- and he can tell you on what day of the week it fell. As to his memory, Bissinger categorizes it less as an ability to retain information than an inability to forget it. The two men travel from Philadelphia to Los Angeles by way of cities and towns where they lived when Zach was younger, and he remembers the time he spent in those places in staggering detail. Cross Zach's path once, and he will ask you several basic questions (where do you live; where do you work; when is your birthday, for example)and never forget your answers. Zach remembers the places his family lived, where they ate and played and went to school, and who their friends were in every place he and his dad visit. He brings out this information in breathless, comma- and period-free bursts of verbiage (Bissinger recorded their interactions on the trip, and writes them down with no punctuation to preserve the spirit of Zach's speech), and constantly surprises his father with what he is able to recall.The two arrive in Los Angeles with over 3 thousand miles behind them and with Bissinger slightly more at ease with his son than he was when they started. He will never come completely to terms with Zach's birth, his present condition, and his future options, but he has had a few experiences that have shown him that, while Zach may never fit in perfectly among the "Normals", as Bissinger calls them, he can continue to grow and develop, to broaden his horizons beyond the routines he tends to cling to, and to work and play and enjoy his life as much as he possibly can.Bissinger comes across as something of a -- let's say -- bonehead in the book. But this is because he has chosen to be as honest as he can about his feelings for his children, especially Zach, and even the noblest of human emotions can have a seedy side. I'm a mother of two typically developing children, so I have no firsthand experience of raising a child with special needs, but I have no reason to suspect that Bissinger isn't being totally open when he says that he loves his son, but that his frustration, disillusionment, and personal ambition have often (and still do) overcome his desire to be tender, nurturing, and understanding in his dealings with Zach. Add to this Bissinger's own family history and the gorilla in the room that is his worries about what will become of Zach when Bissinger is no longer around, and you've got a science experiment volcano that's bound to blow from time to time.As heartbreaking as parts of the book were, I enjoyed the entire thing, partly because the writing was solid, the emotion genuine, and the light moments really funny. But the other part of my enjoyment came from getting to know Zach, just a little, through the eyes of his father, who comes to recognize and admire the strength and honestly that will do a lot to carry Zach through life.

  • Linda C
    2019-02-11 01:46

    This memoir was an easy read, yet was a very powerful book. Buzz Bissinger writes eloquently about taking a cross-country trip with his brain-damaged adult son Zach, his overpowering love for this man/child, their often difficult relationship, and his attempt, through the trip, to understand his son better.Zach and his twin brother, Gerry, were born very prematurely in 1983. While Gerry generally was able to overcome any lingering cognitive birth issues (at the time of the road trip, Gerry is in graduate school at U. Penn), Zach was brain damaged due a lack of oxygen at birth. He has savant-like abilities with dates, directions, and personal information; he can meet someone once, but will remember forever their birthday, their address and other personal information. Unfortunately, in other areas of his life, he functions on the level of an 8 year old.Bissinger, the Pulitzer prize winner author of "Friday Night Lights," is unsparing as he dissects his relationship with his children, his own parents, his failed marriages, his bad choices, as well as looking at his son's life.Is Bissinger a nice guy? Umm, probably not, at least, he certainly doesn't sound like one, but it is obvious that he loves his son. However, he also doesn't sugarcoat Zach's limitations and the difficulty that he, Bissinger, has with them. His own family was very success driven, and his own self-worth is measured by how successful he is, and then how successful his children will be. Now, he has a child whose success will be measured in much smaller increments-- numbered in days bagging groceries, not in the number of magazine articles, or Pulitzers. However, Bissinger began to see on the trip that Zach is an adult, not a child, and is striving for independence from his family. Although his options are more limited than his brother's, he does have choices and he is trying to exercise them.Some reviewers stated that Bissinger was cruel to write about his son this way, but I disagree with that. I think he gave a very well-rounded picture of both Zach's abilities and limitations, and he wasn't afraid to say that "this was not the child that he expected or wanted." I don't think that it shows a lack of love to acknowledge that raising a severely disabled child is not what you sign up for. It may be what you have to do, but it can never be what a parent would choose for his/her child. I respect honesty, even if it isn't always pretty.Another reviewer thought that the writing wasn't very good. Again, I would disagree with that. While everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, Bissinger did win a Pulitzer. On one hand, Goodreads reviewer. On the other, Pulitzer. Hmm, draw your own conclusion.

  • Meghan
    2019-02-11 05:44

    I flip flopped on what to rate this. The story itself is interesting. As a parent, I give nothing but respect to those parents with children who have any kind of disability. The challenges they must face are enormous and the few I have personally known have done it with such grace and love. But it does make me question my abilities and whether or not I could handle it.But the fact is Bissinger is not really likeable. His insistence on making his son conform to his wishes is uncomfortable. Openly admitted, the man has his own emotional problems that don't necessarily stem from his one son. And those problems don't help any.But the reason why I decided to give this 4 stars is that despite what I may feel about this man personally, the truth is he wrote and incredibly open and honest book about his relationship with his son--warts and all. And because of those warts, I give this man a lot of credit for being able to admit his weaknesses about himself and his feelings. And in the end, you do walk away with the sense that regardless of his faults, this man profoundly loves his son--all his children. And what more can you ask of a parent that to truly love their children?It's probably not the best written memoir you could ever read. I don't think there is anything too profound to learn either. But if you want to read something true, this is one story that gives you that in spades.

  • Craig
    2019-01-24 07:51

    A father describes a road trip he takes with his autistic son so that they can become closer. So far so good.However, I found the author to be way too self-absorbed. And the writing in places is awful. Check out this splat of literary vomitus:"Las Vegas is tired in the morning, a sequined hooker waking with mascara streaks of black tears and dagger slits in the rising sun in the stretched holes of her fishnets. Like vampires, gamblers see the rising sun and scurry inside the nearest coffee shop to avoid daylight. They sip black coffee and stare ahead, steeping in the sourness of a spurious last chance run. In the shock of sun, the Eiffel Tower at the Paris looks like a keepsake key chain. The vertical Bally's sign looks as worn as The Last Picture Show. The Mirage and Treasure Island and the Venetian and Caesar's Palace crowd together like subway riders elbowing for space."Yikes.A person with a special-needs child might be more able to appreciate this book than I. And portions of the book are interesting.It is a quick read. If you give this book a chance, you might disagree with me. cws

  • Melinda
    2019-02-10 06:01

    So in this book, the author's goal is to be as honest as he possibly can be about having a special needs son. I totally respect this, and I'm in no way trying to judge how hard it would be to parent a special needs child. I've never had to do this. BUT...the author is such a self-centered jerk in so many aspects of his life (not just his parenting), that I found it very difficult to keep reading. He forces his son to take a road trip that the son does not want. In the epilogue at the end of the book, the author says that he'd had this idea for a book for ten years before he actually wrote it, which makes me think that he forced his son to take the road trip just so that he could have material for the book. Ick. The thing that I liked about the book is that there were sections of well-written facts about the history of premature births and results of those births. I also liked it when Zach, the son, would outsmart his self-centered father.

  • Laura Serico
    2019-01-27 04:40

    Buzz Bissinger is not the easiest guy to like (see twitter rants) or always the most stable (see also shopping addiction article in GQ) but one thing is for certain, he is an honest parent, fallible and flawed. This book gave me a sense of greater understanding of what some of the parents I've worked with must manage on a daily basis- the questions about long term planning, feelings of grief and loss and worry, always worry. Bissinger's son Zach is a pretty phenomenal human, but the father and son road trip detailed in the book is not without challenge and more feelings of grief and worry. A quick read, and definitely one I'd recommend. On a side note, I could have done without so much name dropping about prep school, colleges attended, summering on Nantucket, but undoubtedly Bissinger's privilege is plays a bit role here- surely it must be harder for ivy league grad parents to reconcile their child's limitations... or not.

  • Julie
    2019-02-03 03:47

    I've hidden this very short "review" in case someone is offended by profanity.I wanted to give this five stars - desperately. The author is brutally honest about his experiences as a father of a special needs child. I truly related to his feelings of non-acceptance and of shame (not of his son but of himself for his non-acceptance). I don't know of a single special needs parent who hasn't felt that way but usually, people don't put it into words. This was refreshing. I went back and forth on the rating and finally couldn't go with the five stars, not because of the inclusion of the word "fuck" throughout the book but the overusage of the word. I understand that his frustration level was rising and that he most likely was saying it over and over again but I found it so distracting that all I could think about was that profanity shows a small mind and a smaller vocabulary.

  • Cindy
    2019-02-08 03:52

    I was so excited about this book, because I, too, have an extraordinary son who is very similar to Zach in many ways. But I was very disappointed by the author and his attitude and thoughts and language and actions and the way he wrote about his son and even thought about him. The day he never wants to think about EVER?? The day his twin sons were born, even 24 years later. Why? Because one is "perfect" and one is not. And that's hard for him to get past. Get over yourself, Buzz. It's not all about you.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-29 02:01

    I didn't much care for the father....whiny, ungrateful and his honesty about his feelings about his son were disturbingly cruel. I'm happy that his son will never have to read this book for himself and read his fathers rantings about how awful it is to have a grown child with a mental disability. Bissinger is even embarrassed by his son....you'd think after 20 years, he would have come to grips with it by now. However, I enjoyed the read. Hated the overuse of profanity, especially directed at his son.

  • Linda Berger
    2019-02-03 00:41

    No child arrives with an instruction manual. Mr. Bissinger details the roller coaster life of a father who has a child with special needs. A human and honest account about the world of parenthood. Everyone who has seen, loved, liked, or taught a child should with any kind of differences should read this book. In fact, any parent should.

  • Jane
    2019-01-22 00:53

    I really liked this book. It can be a bit hard to read as he is quite honest. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that I doubt I would ever read it again. I'm trying to save 5 stars for books I want to read over and over and over. Also, he drives into Texas and "Burkburnet County". Y'all know, Burkburnet is in Wichita County.

  • Leslie Klingensmith
    2019-02-19 04:34

    Lovely. Honest, redemptive, and hopeful.

  • Kim
    2019-02-07 06:50

    2.5 stars

  • Karen
    2019-02-11 23:41

    A good read but at times a little too pretentious.

  • Debbie Tanguay
    2019-01-29 03:36

    audio book on ridefrom FL- ok- narrated by father of autistic child now an adult- trip they took crosscountry

  • Faydra
    2019-01-19 23:53

    Today I finished reading Buzz Bissinger’s Father’s Day A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son. It’s a memoir about Buzz Bissinger’s relationship with his developmentally disabled son, how that relationship is stretched and strengthened by a cross country road trip he undertakes with this son in 2007.I kinda read it at arm’s length. Wanting to. Finding it hard. Bissinger drops a lot of F Bombs. He is impatient, quick to anger. The potential of this same parent in me is there, but I’m not into commiseration to leads to justification. Even so, I kept picking it up, feeling it was important somehow as I too have a developmentally disabled son, feeling a parents who’s further down the road (ha ha) would have much to teach me, wondering how the road trip landscape of the book, mirroring so nicely with our stuck-in-the-car summer, would resonate with my own experiences even at this moment.Early in the book I highlighted the words, “His mind is not simple. It is limited to a degree that profoundly frustrates me, but it is inexplicably wondrous at certain moments.” I am all about the wondrous moments. I was all about reading a book where a father finds new wondrous moments. Those moments were there (Pulling the ripcord! The framed picture Zach pulled out the Beverly Hills hotel), but this seemed more to be a book about a father who struggled because the wondrous moments weren’t enough.I get that. I’m not in such a stage of denial with my own son’s disabilities that I don’t get that and respect that. But, when in the acknowledgements he said his editor would often have to tell him to “grow the hell up.” I nodded fervently. I guess I’m just hoping that by the time Toby is Zach’s age I will have already long since processed and accepted what the author seems to be new at accepting. I was born privileged, but I was not born upper east coast privileged. There is a whole level of parental expectation (ivy league schools, number of zeros in their eventual paychecks) that never existed for me going into the whole parent thing. I also have to give this author a little more grace in that, even though my pregnancy was a surprise, I knew with 50% certainty what I was getting myself into. (Toby has Fragile X. I passed this on to him with my own premutated fragile X chromosome, instead of my healthy, sturdy typical-child-creating X chromosome.) Bissinger had premature twin boys and watched with horror when they were born struggling to cling to life, the second son born three minutes later, struggling more significantly as that three extra minutes without air forever changed the nature and development of his brain. Bissinger had every reason to believe his twin’s birth day would be a celebration, instead it was just the first in many harrowing hospital days. A beginning that haunted his path into fatherhood. But he never seems to come to terms with the fact that his son will never achieve success as he defines it, will never experience the mile markers our society establishes as the necessary rights of passage for a happy, fulfilling life. But I go at this from a Christian perspective, one that defines success differently. And I am constantly forcing myself to reevaluate those societal markers that easily have nothing to do with God’s best for one’s life. Because of the ideologies by which I live, I have to believe that Toby and Zach are fearfully and wonderfully made, a marvelous work, a delight to the most high God. These beliefs have set a different tone for my entry into motherhood.Bissinger acknowledges, “Which does raise the question of why it takes brain damage to be kind and honest and true instead of insecure and behind-the-back vindictive as so many of us are.” He acknowledges this yes, but he is insecure and vindictive (Seriously? Unable to enjoy a Hollywood party because he was so envious of the success of others? Unable to read the bestseller list for the same reason. “Grow the hell up!”), so he is a hard tour guide for the journey. I haven’t had his on-the-floor-naked-in-a-strange-hotel-rocking-at-the-weight-of-his-perceived-failures experiences, (I’m 34 though, plenty of time left for that.) so again, much respect…. But ultimately we’re going about our journey’s in such a vastly different way that this wasn’t quite the book, for me, I hoped it would be.I have to add here that on the same day I finished this book, I received news that a dear friend gave birth to her third child, their long-hoped-for son, but her day of joy was marred by visually apparent problems with his limbs. A geneticist was called in, a diagnosis of SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, made. We are not guaranteed or entitled to a certain kind of life. Our kids are not guaranteed or entitled to a certain kind of life. As parents that won’t stop us from pouring every resource we have into the best possible life we can perceive for our children, but we still can’t predict their journey. We can only bare witness to the wondrous moments.

  • Mary
    2019-01-28 05:46

    This story could have been endearing. However, I'm surprised APS wasn't called on Bissinger after all the verbal abuse he writes about in the book. I understand he was trying to be open and honest, but really he came across as a bitter, pathetic asshole. I work with people with disabilities and enjoy reading these types of books, but I just couldn't wait for it to be over. He also tries to be poetic and existential, but it just detracts from the story. This book has only left me feeling annoyed and angry that a person could be so openly ungrateful. He did try to sound more grateful at the end, but it just wasn't good enough to make up for his obnoxiousness earlier.

  • Laurie Gold
    2019-02-19 05:44

    Buzz Bissinger writes with searing honesty in Father's Day, which ostensibly recounts a road trip taken with his son Zach in 2007. Zach, in his mid-twenties at the time, was born prematurely and with a major oxygen deficiency three minutes after his twin's birth. He suffers from a myriad of mental disabilities and is also a savant when it comes to dates and places. Bissinger suggested the trip as a way to get to know his son, who has an interior life, just one that is inaccessible to those around him. In an effort to create enthusiasm for the trip, he suggests to his son, none too keen on driving across the country, that rather than visit attractions like the Grand Canyon, they visit cities and towns in which they once lived, and visit old friends and colleagues. Anyone who parents a child with some sort of learning difference and social challenges will empathize with the author, who readily admits to mistakes he made along the way, and anger and frustration he continues to feel. My heart broke when he wrote about his blue box of test scores, psych analyses, and teacher comments. While most parents have boxes of their kids' art work and report cards, there are many of us with our own blue boxes. When she heard I was reading this book, a friend told me that a friend of hers had read it and disliked it because the author's behavior toward his son is not always sugar and spice. That may be precisely why I liked it. It's honest. It's gut-wrenching, and when the author dons a hair shirt, it felt authentic to me. I don't want to give much detail because those who read the book will discover it for themselves. Just know that in addition to the pathos, there's great writing, and, from Zach to his dad, a lesson or two about handling life when you want to explode. Because as much as Bissinger longs to teach his son, he readily accepts his son's lessons, about acceptance, about love, and dignity.This book is a strong B+; I'm actually wavering with an A-, or DIK grade. What may put it over the top is a conversation the author had with Zach's twin shortly after his college graduation about who might assume responsibility for Zach after the death of their parents. If you read the book, I'd love to hear from you, and if I update the grade, I'll reflect that here.

  • Sera
    2019-02-04 02:43

    Buzz's journey into the mind and heart of his son actually ends up (like most journeys of discovery) with Buzz examining himself as a father, husband and overall person. Buzz decides to take his son, Zach, on a road trip to get to know him better. Sounds great, right? Well, the problem is that Zach, at the age of 24, is mentally handicapped and frankly, unable to engage in any type of self-reflection, which makes the journey a bit of a frustrating one for dad. In the end, however, Buzz, is able to gain some insight that improves his relationship with his son. Zach's a good kid who is managing well, so the family is fortunate in many ways, considering how it all started.Buzz is not as good. I found him to be more of a sympathetic character than Zach, because of the amount of guilt that he carries around with him. Besides Zach, Buzz has faced other severe circumstances regarding his family that would significantly impact the psyche of any person. Yet Buzz's primary issue, in my opinion, is how he makes each negative event in his life relate to his own personal failure somehow. Having been raised with the need to succeed, Buzz has taken this goal to the extreme so that no matter what happens, it's his fault that things didn't turn out right. What a horrible burden this man carries.Buzz also wrote Friday Night Lights, which is frequently mentioned in the book. Again, what was Buzz's greatest success came at such price for him emotionally, and understandably so, because it provides another example of where again, his quest for success, has a not so positive impact on others close to the project. Buzz's guilt over some of the decisions that he made here carries on to present day, where he continues to try to deal with certain aspects of it.Overall, I would recommend this book. It's a quick read that gives great insight into the author. I also appreciated the insight that Buzz gave in regard to his son, Zach, who has a great support network around him and will be just fine.

  • JoanneClarke Gunter
    2019-01-20 00:38

    This is a well-written, enjoyable, and often humorous book about a father really coming to grips with his son as he is: a man with the limitations of brain damage but with some extraordinary gifts as well.Buzz Bissinger decides to take his adult son, Zach, on a cross-country road trip in order for them to "bond" and have more time together. But a cross-country trip with Zach is very different than one with someone who does not have the peculiarities of a 24 year-old man with autism/savant issues. Zach does not care about seeing the tourist "sights" that most people enjoy. He wants to return to all the places and buildings where he once lived and to see all the people he has ever met. He has all the streets, the buildings, the people and their respective birthdays imprinted on his mind. The sight of the local car wash his family once went to in Texas excites him. The Grand Canyon does not. And Zach likes to ask a lot of questions. A LOT of questions. This alone can become rather annoying on a car trip from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Zach is a person who works bagging groceries and who loves maps, he remembers every person's birthday, he knows what day of the week any day in his lifetime fell on, but he cannot add two plus two and has only a vague idea of how money works. When he and his twin brother Gerry were born, Gerry was born first and got more oxygen. Gerry is a graduate student at Penn. Zach got less oxygen and brain damage. He will never drive a car or live by himself, but he is fun and funny and adores his brother and father, as well as most people who show a genuine interest in him. He can be delightful and he can be very very trying.I have a fascination with books about brain abnormalities and how the people with them function. This is an interesting book on that subject, but also a real and personal account of the joys and sorrows of raising such a person and coming to appreciate the sweet times. I highly recommend this book.

  • Wanchee Wang
    2019-02-11 03:39

    In FATHER'S DAY, bestselling author Buzz Bissinger embarks on a road trip with his adult savant son. Zach was born 13 weeks premature and three minutes after his twin brother. Because of those three minutes, his brain was deprived of oxygen, rendering him borderline mentally disabled (his twin suffered developmental delays but is now a school teacher and leads an independent life). He undertakes this trip in an effort to understand his son, to “crack through the surface into his soul.” He writes with brutal candor about his efforts to come to terms with his son’s condition: “Why sugarcoat it? My son is mentally retarded. Because of three fucking minutes.” One wonders whether it is Bissinger’s very drive for success that made it that much more difficult for him to accept his son’s disabilities. He is the bestselling author of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, which sold two million copies and was made into a film and an acclaimed TV series; he has won a Pulitzer Prize. Having grown up in a high-achieving family (his maternal grandfather founded Lebenthal & Co., a municipal bond firm) and summered on Nantucket with other successful families, his “…whole life pivoted on success.” Written with unflinching honesty, the book does not always show Bissinger in a favorable light. He is impatient, easily angered, and curiously lacking in self-control. It is his self-awareness that saves him from being totally unsympathetic: when planning their trip, he wonders whether this plan is “…a selfish one, a classic example of a father forcing his imprint on his son and creating an experience that only becomes memorable because both parties spend a lifetime unsuccessfully trying to forget it.” In the end, he does recognize the limits of a life based on the dogged pursuit of success: “We normally associate success with intellect and riches and status…Up until this trip, that was my own definition.” It is a revealing read into the heart and mind of a parent of a child with disabilities.

  • Frieda Vizel
    2019-01-31 04:45

    A good enough book; it's not like there's much of a story there in the first place, and with what he's got, a road trip with an adult disabled son stretched to book length, the product is good, the writing and honesty carries it. I would have given it four stars but one star is lost for the mistrust that I feel when an experience is created for writing, when a road trip is staged for a book, as was obviously the case here. This staging, to me, is a different kind of dishonesty of the James Frey strand. While everything that's staged can be filmed, photographed and recorded, I felt deeply uncomfortable knowing that the two of them were driving, a tape was rolling, and these supposedly "intimate" moments happened with the knowledge that the recorder was producing a story for them. (I think this is the our recent plague of non-fiction dishonesty; from reality TV and to Facebook pictures of smiling people who go to great lengths to produce instragram to show to their public to get all the likes, the emotions can't be trusted if staged.) The whole time I read this book, all I could think of was: this poor man-child was in a car because Bissinger needed to write a book about his son. I'd feel more comfortable if there was no recorder.Still, Bissinger is a good writer and I believe, despite all his self incriminating reports, a really good father. I certainly would hop into a car and take road trip with this tortured maniac anytime! I laughed out loud often at his absurd and obsessive jealousy and ambition. I think he finds it funny too - after he's taken his meds.Some of his darker observations of himself, parenting, people, will make an impression on me that will stay. I'll say remember, remember, the book, I forgot the name... what the author said about reading the New York Times Book Review? Yeah, I remember.

  • Whistlers Mom
    2019-02-03 05:46

    For some, life is all about flying with broken wings.Every parent experiences joy and sorrow, hope and disappointment, pride and shame. The parent of a special needs child experiences all the usual parental emotions in a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows with the knowledge that the "job" is never-ending. His "child" will never become an adult.Zack's premature entrance into the world left him with limitations that define his life, yet his strengths and the devotion of his parents have allowed him to achieve more than anyone believed possible. As his stepmother says, his wings are broken, but everyday he flies. Now approaching thirty, he's still reaching for new goals and meeting them.In a perfect world, it would be enough. But our world isn't perfect and neither is this author. Born into a family of high achievers, he's relentlessly chased the Goddess of Success. Some families seem to have the knack of combining high ambitions with high spirits and joie de vivre . His family just had the ambitions. His intelligence, energy, and talent go hand-in-hand with a genius for frequently making himself and everyone around him miserable.In this painfully honest book, he lays bare his life - parents, sons, marriages, career, and his complicated relationship with the talented, troubled black man he met while writing FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and who has become a fourth son. He examines his beliefs about love and family and success and failure - the real ones. Not the facile platitudes that we tell ourselves and others, but the gut-deep feelings that drive our lives.This may not be the book he intended to write, but it's beautiful, touching, and memorable. I always check out the Daily Deals, hoping to find books I want to read, but can't pay full price for. I found a real treasure in this one.