We all have an imaginary definition of a great family. We imagine what it would be like to belong to such a family. No fights over the holidays. No getting on one another’s nerves. Respect for individual identity. Mutual support, without being intrusive. So many people believe they are disqualified from having a better family experience, primarily because they compare their own family with the mythic ideal, and their reality falls short. Is that a fair standard to judge against?”
In the pages of Why Do I Love These People?, Po Bronson takes us on an extraordinary journey.
It begins on a river in Texas, where a mother gets trapped underwater and has to bargain for her own life and that of her kids.
Then, a father and his daughter return to their tiny rice-growing village in China, hoping to rekindle their love for each other inside the walls of his childhood home.
Next, a son puts forth a riddle, asking us to understand what his first experience of God has to do with his Mexican American mother.
Every step–and every family–on this journey is real.
Calling upon his gift for powerful nonfiction narrative and philosophical insight, Bronson explores the incredibly complicated feelings that we have for our families. Each chapter introduces us to two people–a father and his son, a daughter and her mother, a wife and her husband–and we come to know them as intimately as characters in a novel, following the story of their relationship as they struggle resiliently through the kinds of hardships all families endure.
Some of the people manage to save their relationship, while others find a better life only after letting the relationship go. From their efforts, the wisdom in this book emerges. We are left feeling emotionally raw but grounded–and better prepared to love, through both hard times and good time.
In these twenty mesmerizing stories, we discover what is essential and elemental to all families and, in doing so, slowly abolish the fantasies and fictions we have about those we fight to stay connected to.
In Why Do I Love These People?, Bronson shows us that we are united by our yearnings and aspirations: Family is not our dividing line, but our common ground.
From the Publisher
Bestselling writer Po Bronson has written an extraordinary book about the institution that is central to all our lives. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Many people feel like their chance for happiness is over when they have a setback in terms of family life.
Anyone who reads Po Bronson's Why Do I Love These People? will realize that the first disappointment is only a minor hurdle along the path to having a better family life. In fact, the latest disappointment is only of middling concern . . . as long as you deal with that disappointment with integrity and love.
Truth is stranger and more fascinating than fiction. Most reviewers would criticize novels based on these stories as being hard to swallow. Real people wouldn't act that way! But extraordinary people have acted in these positive ways and they provide role models and hope for the rest of us.
Based on your own experiences, you'll react more or less to individual stories. But I wager that you'll find some that move you to the bottoms of your feet.
I was also touched when Mr. Bronson included some of his own life story here so we wouldn't feel like he was playing the role of clinical observer. I'm sure it must have been a heavy weight to carry so much love, loss and hurt around with him. But I'll bet that the stories that provide hope felt like life preservers after a while.
I felt emotionally leveled by The Promise, The Cook's Story, The Trial, Dorothy's Child, Jamaica?, The Butcher's Wife, The Unexplained and The Tornado.
The last time I read a book about a series of real-life experiences that moved me so much was Studs Terkel's book, Working.
If you care about having a better family life, read this book . . . and think long and hard about what you learn. Then act!
I saw this book and was initially disappointed when I saw that he was taking the same approach to families. However, his point seems to be that reflection on other people's honest accounts of their own experience helps us to understand ourselves. And it does.
However, if you are trying to find your answer in a 'self-help book' this may be too powerful for you. Some of the experiences described with admirable honesty are not pleasant and it can be quite harrowing to feel you have a handle on someone just for them to surprise you in this way.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Resentment about controlling parents who appear to display conditional loving and also about appreciating how much of their lives parents sacrifice to bring the kids up; the search for redemption after abandoning a kid or cheating on a wife, the courage required to break relationships that are dead and the perseverance required to bring one back from the dead (and the effect on kids), dealing with the families of your in-laws and family objection to marriage, how to deal with kids who are falling into bad habits when you feel powerless to influence their decisions because they no longer respect you or listen to you, dealing with the death of a child, how we feel obligated to spend time with our families rather than actually wanting to spend time with them and what we are losing, etc.
Although it may seem that most people cannot relate to these situations... actually I felt an amazing amount of empathy for the families and came away with a renewed conviction that I can get the perfect family life (with all it's frustrations and headaches) and balance it with everything.
If you have any relationship, friendship that you have a certain amount of frustration, resignation about then I strongly recommend this book. It is one of those books that if it hits you at the right time - it could change your relationships and your life.
This book is a true blessing. The book is filled with tons of stories from a multicultural array of relationship experiences where people learn to overcome the life's great obstacles and capture the true meaning of being alive. This book came to me at a low point in my life, when hope was slowly fading from my heart. This book gave me faith that pain is not an end, but a bump in life's journey. It is impossible to read this book and not come away inspired and nurtured by the stories of the people in its pages.
Do not miss the opportunity to experience this treasure as it will nourish your soul, but be warned-- you will be moved to buy this book for the people you care most about in life because this truly blessed experience is not meant to remain a secret.
Bronson does not present typical families in this book, nor does he try and find atypical or controversial families to fill the pages. Bookstore shelves are already lined with such titles. Instead, Bronson began corresponding with people, using the method he utilized in WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE and let their stories fill the pages. We meet a wide group of people who have all sorts of struggles such as a woman who wakes from a near death experience and wonders what her life is all about, a man who loses his son and his loss reshapes his life, a woman from Northern Ireland who makes radical changes in her life for the betterment of her children or a woman who decides she needs to cheat on her husband, with his permission, to save a monotonous marriage. These are just a few of the stories. Bronson never sensationalizes his subjects, which may be why even if readers have little or nothing in common with some of the people, they'll still be moved by the stories. Bronson also adds a few editorial comments based on his observations or personal experiences, but overall he allows the people to tell their stories, and he merely (skillfully is more accurate) puts it in written form.
Readers of WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE may remember that while the book was praised, there were some criticisms that the book contained too many stories from well to do, usually white people, who could change careers without destroying their lives. While the praise and criticism of WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? is well taken, that's not the case with this book. Readers will be surprised at the diversity in this book. People from a variety of races, religious traditions, and backgrounds are represented and readers come away with a deeper respect for the ties that bind us with those we usually love most, our families, and that even if these bonds can be imperfect and at times seriously flawed, the bonds are real and in many cases, last against a great deal of troubles.