Raising Raffi: The First Five Years

Books on Tape. Jun. 2022. 6:08 hrs. ISBN 9780593592694. $66.50. CHILD REARING
As listeners hear journalist and author Gessen (A Terrible Country) read his engaging collection of advice-free essays about parenthood, they will feel as though they’re standing next to him at a Brooklyn playground, watching their children play (or fight), and glad to be hanging out with this humble, honest father. Admitting he wrote these essays “out of desperation,” Gessen candidly shares his anxiety as a self-described “unprepared” parent and relates how he sought answers to eternal struggles, such as discipline and sleeping within the enormous, often contradictory, genre of child development literature. Some of Gessen’s obstacles are more specific to him as a Moscow-born journalist living in New York City, but most parents can relate to the overwhelming feelings of self-doubt and fear he describes. The nine essays flow chronologically, mostly, starting with Raffi’s home birth, and each dives into a single subject including bilingualism, anger, school choices, pandemic parenting, and sports participation. Gessen relays the adventures and misadventures of his “adorable, infuriating, mercurial” firstborn son with warmth, humor, and exasperation in his voice.
VERDICT New parents, as well as parents of older children, will likely find both entertainment and solace in this smart, relatable work.
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