Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood

If your kids turned outlaw with things like Senior Skip Day and TPing or egging a neighbor's house, count yourself lucky. Journalist and biographer Neal Thompson (A Curious Man) and his wife, Mary, raised two boys with a skateboard obsession and deep immersion in its rogue ways of weed, hip-hop, tats, graffiti and in-your-face rebellion. Kickflip Boys captures the trials of their parenting of Sean and Leo. It's also a reflection on Thompson's own wild youth and an up-close peek into skateboarding subculture. White, liberal professionals, Neal and Mary were raised to be independent and bend the rules. So, as Thompson notes, they "adopted our parents' style of governing--as in: not too much." When their boys shunned academics and traditional sports for freewheeling skateboarding, they scrambled to find a plan B. With eyes glued to YouTube videos of "skaters... graffiti artists, rappers, and street-fight beat downs," and to websites like Vice and WorldStarHipHop, Sean and Leo soon went off the rails.

Rich in the argot of skaters and bursting with all the humor, tears, pride and regret that a parent can't avoid, Kickflip Boys describes the Thompsons' humbling journey to guide their sons safely to maturity. Unlike some memoirs, it has a happy ending: "It wasn't always pretty, but... we emerged on the other side of it all, messy and loving, battle-hardened and intact." In Thompson's self-deprecating, informal prose, Kickflip Boys depicts a wild family trip worth the potholes. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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