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All booksMemoirLove That Boy
Love That Boy by Ron Fournier

Love That Boy

by Ron Fournier

Quick take

While it's a book about parenting, its lessons are honest, moving meditation on the meaning of unconditional love.

Why I love it

For me, there are few subjects as precious as unconditional love. All my life, my mother gave me a sense of unconditional loving. This meant that even as I was going for my dreams, I knew that if I failed she wouldn't love me any less. And that made me less afraid to fail.

As a mother, I loved Ron Fournier's "Love That Boy," and while it's a book about parenting, its lessons are universal. At its core, this book is an honest, moving mediation on the meaning of unconditional love ? about the expectations we bring to the relationships in our lives, and how we square those expectations with the real, flesh-and-blood human beings who mean the most to us and challenge us.

Fournier, a father of three, is a seasoned political journalist, with decades spent covering or overseeing coverage of national politics. As he admits, it's "an ego-inflating career that I often put ahead of my wife and kids." His wakeup call comes when his son, Tyler, is diagnosed with Asperger's at age 12. The boy is socially awkward and -- to Fournier's deep disappointment and frustration -- doesn't share his father's love of sports. With the diagnosis, Fournier at last begins to confront a hard, essential truth. "When a parent's expectations come from the wrong place and are pressed into service of the wrong goals, kids get hurt," he writes. "I discovered this late in my job as a father."

For Fournier, the breakthrough comes when he and Tyler discover a shared passion for presidential history. At his wife's urging, father and son set out on a series of road trips -- bonding tours, really -- visiting presidential sites across the country.

But what I find truly refreshing, and what I'm most grateful for, is that this book transcends the political divisions of our time: love, expectations, disappointment, and longing, it turns out, are beyond left-and-right. Fournier and Tyler meet with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. On Fournier's last day covering the White House for the Associated Press, he introduces Tyler, not yet diagnosed, to President Bush. The meeting is as awkward as Fournier can imagine. As he's leaving, though, President Bush gives him a piece of advice he'll remember for the rest of his life: "love that boy."

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Member thoughts

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All (280)
Love (127)
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303 ratings
  • 42% Love
  • 40% Like
  • 10% Dislike
  • New Brockton, AL

    The story is of 1 family's journey to understand their "quirky" son. Whether you have an Autistic child or not, you should read this book. Incredibly well written with lots of research to back it up!

  • Ashland, WI

    A brilliantly honest account of a father's struggle to comes to terms with his son's Asperger and how he and his son bond after the diagnosis. Loved this book- there was laughter & there were tears.

  • Glendale, CA

    As a mom of a 10 yr old with Asperger's this really hit home and reminded me that it's okay to be imperfect because in the end, no one will mind even half as much as our anxiety leads us to believe.

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    Oh, I loved this book. The stories he shares of bonding with his son with autism and trying to understand him were so sweet. I'm also a history fan, so it was fascinating to hear the facts he gave.

  • Louisville, KY

    It was a beautiful book on parenting, accepting, finding new understandings, and just learning how to love what is. I fell in love with every single word, and it made me love my Aspie friends more.

  • Glens Falls, NY

    As the mother of an autistic daughter, and a presidential nerd, this book brought two of my passions together. I'm recommending all parents read it- even parents of children without special needs

  • New York, NY

    Overall I really enjoyed it and am so happy I chose it. It was a fast and informative read and also quite emotional. It educated me a lot on Asperger's, our education system, core curriculum, etc.

  • Winston Salem, NC

    Fournier proves that being emotionally vulnerable and painfully honest is an absolutely powerful gift. This book is raw and full of depth that drives you to turn the page and keep reading.

  • Dickinson, TX

    I was often shocked at the thoughts he had of his son (shame, embarrassment) but he does love him, and I'm glad he was able to do this with him. I enjoyed this man's fatherly perspective.

  • Searcy, AR

    Great parenting book without being a parenting book! It was refreshing to hear truth about parental expectations, adjusting thought processes, and rising to the challenges of parenting.

  • Portland, OR

    Fournier makes a solid case for examining the expectations we all bring to raising kids. He lets himself be vulnerable. His points are right on, especially when they hurt just a little.

  • Eagle Mountain, UT

    I loved this book so much. I'm not a parent, but I do have a brother with Asperger's, so this book resonated so much with me. I've been recommending it to all sorts of people.

  • Carlsbad, CA

    Heartwarming father-song story about letting go of expectations and accepting (even appreciating) differences. Also a ton of president-related info for the politico in you.

  • Fargo, ND

    To every parent of a child who is less than “perfect” in another’s eyes, read this book, and realize that your child is exactly who they should be. Loved this book!

  • Atlanta, GA

    Excellent story and insights about the psychology of parent-child relationships, nicely intertwined with telling anecdotes about presidential history/interactions.

  • Shawnee, KS

    I don't usually like plow through non-fiction, but I this one was a page-turner for me. I will definitely read it again and again as my young children grow.

  • Lebanon, TN

    Funny, tender, honest, and ultimately affirming. As someone with an immediate family member on the spectrum this was valuable reading indeed.

  • Joliet, IL

    As a parent, it is easy to lose sight of the source of my expectations. My kids are unique. Thank you Mr. Fournier of reminding me of my center.

  • Georgetown, KY

    As a mom of a little boy, this book really touched me. Also, the portrayal of presidents and Capitol Hill was more positive and refreshing.

  • Pensacola, FL

    Not something I would have picked myself, but it was a good read and put things into perspective when it comes to parenting.

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