Cracking the Boy Code: How to Understand and Talk with Boys

Adam J. Cox. New Society, $18.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-86571-876-0
Therapist and author Cox (On Purpose Before Twenty) fails to live up to his title’s promise with this unexceptional self-help guide, in which common-sense nostrums are presented in an occasionally patronizing fashion. While constantly referencing his years of practice and the speeches he’s delivered across the globe, Cox tends to treat boys as a monolithic, sulky, nonverbal group who just need parents to watch their speaking tone, respect their sons’ privacy, and take them seriously. His solutions—including providing boys with purposeful work, talking while playing catch to cultivating authentic experiences, reducing eye contact, and therapy—may work in some circumstances, but Cox is unconvincing in presenting his conclusions as universally applicable. Nor is there much discussion of how boys’ reactions to the world can be a matter of youth rather than gender (and could thus equally apply to girls and nonbinary children). With little analysis of the roles that socialization and the standard narratives of masculinity play in determining the attitudes and actions of young men, frustrated parents may be left feeling less than hopeful after reading a book that implies boys’ behavior is a predetermined outcome only exacerbated by uninformed elders. There may be helpful insights sprinkled throughout, but the book’s boilerplate approach renders it fairly indistinguishable from other titles in a crowded field. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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