Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood
"Thompson captures the ache, fizz, yearning and frustration of being the father of adolescent boys." --Michael Chabon
"What a riveting, touching, and painful read!" --Maria Semple
"Fun, moving, raw, and relatable." --Tony Hawk
What makes a good father, and what makes one a failure? Does less-is-more parenting inspire independence and strength, or does it encourage defiance and trouble? Kickflip Boys is the story of a father's struggle to understand his willful skateboarder sons, challengers of authority and convention, to accept his role as a vulnerable "skate dad," and to confront his fears that the boys are destined for an unconventional and potentially fraught future.
With searing honesty, Neal Thompson traces his sons' progression through all the stages of skateboarding: splurging on skate shoes and boards, having run-ins with security guards, skipping classes and defying teachers, painting graffiti, drinking and smoking, and more. As the story veers from funny to treacherous and back, from skateparks to the streets, Thompson must confront his complicity and fallibility. He also reflects on his upbringing in rural New Jersey, and his own adventures with skateboards, drugs, danger, and defiance.
A story of thrill-seeking teens, of hope and love, freedom and failure, Kickflip Boys reveals a sport and a community that have become a refuge for adolescent boys who don't fit in. Ultimately, it's the survival story of a loving modern American family, of acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go.
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About the Author
Neal Thompson is the author of six nonfiction books, including The First Kennedys, A Curious Man, Driving with the Devil, and the memoir Kickflip Boys. A veteran journalist, he has written for Esquire, Outside, the New York Times, the Washington Post and many others; Neal has appeared on NPR, PBS, the BBC, The Daily Show and more. He lives in Seattle with his family. He publishes the Blood & Whiskey crime writing newsletter on Substack.
"Heartfelt. . . . This memoir will provide humor and comfort for parents figuring out their kids."--Publishers Weekly
"Kickflip Boys is an amazing chronicle of parenthood, but what makes it so striking, so beautiful, is how well Neal Thompson not only understands the struggles of parenting, but also the strangeness of adolescence. It's empathetic, and funny, and Neal Thompson nails it."--Kevin Wilson
"With the emotional authority of the best novels, Thompson's prose sings. I laughed out loud and cried all the way through. The voice is brave, funny and fiercely honest. Ultimately this wonderful book is about love. Because those we care about most will always surprise us."--Peter Heller
"A provocative and inspiring memoir that delves into the hopes and fears of parents as much as it delves into the hopes and fears of the children they are striving to raise. And, yes, it is about skateboarding. Which is the key--for the resilient Thompson family--to happiness and joy."--Garth Stein
"An honest account of raising creative, rebellious boys who happen to love skateboarding. Having been through the fire of raising a few free-thinking boys myself, I found Kickflip Boys to be fun, moving, raw, and relatable."--Tony Hawk
"Excellent. . . . Thompson's remarkably honest account of fatherhood presents a scary, funny, and reflective read all at once."--Library Journal (starred review)