A Journey Into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), Hardcover, 9780547816562, 242pp.
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
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.
"Blunt, tender, sometimes harrowing, and always affecting, Father’s Day is a triumph. Bissinger unfurls the whole fabric of love and pride and heartbreak and salvation that makes a family, with an honesty that will make you gasp."
— Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief
"Bissinger has the great writer’s gift of showing us we are not alone. Here he explores the religion all parents share: that our children’s essential goodness will somehow grant them safe passage through a rough world. What a book! Every parent should read it."
— Chris Matthews, host of Hardball and author of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero"I loved this unflinching, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant tale of disability and difference, and what it means to be a father, a son, and a man." — Jennifer Weiner, author of Then Came You and Fly Away Home "Buzz Bissinger's memoir — a paean to his remarkable son — is tender, funny, frightening at moments when love is re-stated; even brave — which memoiristic writing rarely gets the chance to be. It also reads as unflinchingly true, which should give it a long and useful life in the reader's heart." — Richard Ford "Father's Day is the story of a road trip like no other. Searing and heartfelt, this is not just an unforgettable portrait of a father and his son; it is a love story that speaks to the mystery, pain, and exhilaration of being human." — Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower and The Last Stand
"This brave and beautiful memoir gets at the core of what it means to be a parent — how painful it can be, how scary it can get, and how rewarding it is. By facing a challenge that would try any of us, and beat many of us, Bissinger emerges a better man. He not only finds his son, but himself, and the reader finds something, too. After reading Fathers Day, I’ve rethought my assumptions about what makes a successful and worthy life. Ultimately, this is a mesmerizing story about how we can all be better."
— David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy
"Buzz Bissinger has given completely of himself in this moving book about his son Zach, who was born too small, too soon. There is the father's disappointment and guilt, his confusion and frustration, his wonder and love. That Zach has a twin brother, who grew up unscathed, and that Zach's mind is as divided as his father's emotions, makes the story all that more compelling. Father's Day is wonderfully, achingly written, with all the doubt that tells you how truthful it is."
— Frank Deford, author of The Old Ball Game and The Entitled
"Every father of a special needs child should read this very insightful book."
— Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation
"A fiercely honest memoir about the complex hard drive of a son's brain and the balky software of a father's heart. Though his story is singular, Bissinger makes it feel like part of that eternal saga — fathers and sons trying to connect."
— J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar