Raising Raffi: The First Five Years

Viking. Jun. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9780593300442. $27. CHILD REARING
Like many parents, Gessen (All the Sad Young Literary Men) found himself in survival mode for the first several years of his son Raffi’s life. A writer himself, he noticed a gap in the literature about fatherhood, between the dad who can’t seem to get anything right and the superdad, the perfect parent who can do it all. Gessen assumed most dads, like him, fell somewhere in the middle of the extreme-swinging pendulum. The Moscow-born, New York–based novelist here reflects on seeing the world through new eyes in the life-changing moments after his first son’s arrival, including the fears and emotions that parents don’t often voice; for instance, he lost sleep over frequent baby feedings but also over an irrational fear of his son’s death. A journalist by trade (and founding editor of the literary magazine n+1), Gessen doesn’t miss a chance to share interesting anecdotal information about the parenting of favorite children’s literature authors or parenting customs around the world. At times this feels a bit disjointed, but the book is engaging and better-written than many parenting books on the market. In addition, it is a fascinating look at the triumphs and struggles faced by a first-generation Russian immigrant.
VERDICT A more literary look at the topic of parenting.
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