cover image Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

Fredrik Backman. Atria, $24 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9686-7

Swedish novelist Backman (A Man Called Ove; Beartown) addresses his young son in a series of delightful, thoughtful essays on fatherhood. In “What You Need To Know About Motion-Sensitive Bathroom Lights,” Backman explains how his life “revolves around the logistics of poop,” and tells of a funny struggle with a shopping center baby-changing station that, he writes, “was my Vietnam.” In one of the shorter anecdotes, “This Is Not Going Well. I’m Aware, ” Backman contemplates explaining the birds and the bees to his son, but concludes: “I had sex with your mother. You’re gonna need a few years to process this.... I really should have just told you about storks.” A moving essay on “What You Need to Know About Soccer” is less about the sport and more about Backman’s desire for his son to not experience the feeling of “being left out” and of his own fear that someday Backman will feel left out of his grown son’s life. All of the essays are connected by Backman’s belief that children should grow up “to be better than us... kinder, smarter, more humble, more generous, and more selfless than we are.” Parents—especially fathers—will appreciate Backman’s witty and touching lessons.[em] (May) [/em]