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Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  920 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
A remarkable memoir from the best-selling author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.

Buzz Bissinger’s twins were born three minutes—and a world—apart. Gerry, the older one, is a graduate student at Penn, preparing to become a teacher. His brother Zach has spent his life attending special schools. He’ll never drive a car, or kiss a girl, or live by himself. He
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,105)
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Apr 07, 2012 Kurt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fathers, sons, anyone who cares for someone who is Different
Recommended to Kurt by: Amazon Vine
This book is a perfect Father's Day gift: a road trip story of a man trying to bond with his son, while reflecting on his own father, his other significant relationships, and his personal triumphs and failures. It is heartfelt and powerful and a little sappy and a little funny.. and I love it passionately.

The skeleton of Bissinger's book is a road trip that he designs as an opportunity to get to know one of his sons, a young man who suffered brain damage at birth and grew up Different. Zach is a
Jun 06, 2012 Cynthia rated it it was ok
This is the kind of book I would normally devour. Unfortunately, I didn't respond that way to this book. While I appreciate how incredibly tough it must be for the author to have a son with significant brain issues (particularly since this son has a "normal" twin brother), the author comes across as terribly self-absorbed and with many, many (self-admitted) issues of his own. The book is ostensibly about the author and son's cross-country drive where they could rediscover old haunts and experien ...more
Overrated Parenting
May 31, 2012 Overrated Parenting rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Back in the 1970's Buzz Bissinger, best known for the book Friday Night Lights, watched as his twin boys were born 13.5 weeks early and three minutes and three ounces apart. And although it doesn't seem like it should, those three minutes and three ounces made all the difference to you younger twin, Zach. Because of them, Zach, unlike his brother Gerry, suffered irreparable trace brain damage that have left him mentally retarded, unable to process the abstract, but with a savant's memory, especi ...more
Sep 29, 2014 Suzy rated it liked it
Definitely worth a read. I found this book on my mom's shelf, one of dozens of books given to her by a dear bookish friend. Basically this friend (who recently passed away) would show up for lunch dates with a paper bag full of "books you have to read". It was overwhelming to my mom, so she would always offer me as many free books as I would like on my visits. Jackpot! Mom said she had started Father's Day and didn't like it, but I suspect what she didn't like was Bissinger's language. I wasn't ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Buzz Bissinger was blessed with being the father of twins, and some would say cursed since Zack, the younger by 3 minutes, was brain damaged at birth. But these are special people, and despite splitting from his wife shortly after this traumatic event, Bissinger shared fully in his sons' development and lives. When Zack is 25, the two of them go on a trip to visit places they'd lived. Although developmentally challenged, Zack possesses several astounding talents, a gift for navigation being one ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was ok
Buzz Bissinger certainly can write. Although his background is in newspaper reporting, he does an excellent job in sustaining a far longer narrative. This is the first book of his I have read, although he is rather well-known for Friday Night Lights. I do plan on reading his other books because of the pure pleasure of reading such a good writer.

The book this reminds me the most of, however, is Tuesdays With Morrie. It seems artificial. I don't believe that it took Bissinger 25 years and a cross-
Aug 02, 2012 Jess rated it it was amazing
Buzz Bissinger's twin boys were born 13 weeks early, weighing less than two pounds. One of his sons, Zach, suffers brain damage. As a result, Zach ends up severely mentally impaired. This memoir is about Bissinger's quest to come to grips with who his son is. Bissinger and Zach embark on a cross-country road trip during which father learns much about son and himself. Bissinger's portrayal of his relationship with his son is raw, honest and real. I admired the author's courage in conveying in an ...more
Laura Serico
Dec 30, 2013 Laura Serico rated it really liked it
Buzz Bissinger is not the easiest guy to like (see twitter rants) or always the most stable (see also shopping addiction article in GQ) but one thing is for certain, he is an honest parent, fallible and flawed. This book gave me a sense of greater understanding of what some of the parents I've worked with must manage on a daily basis- the questions about long term planning, feelings of grief and loss and worry, always worry. Bissinger's son Zach is a pretty phenomenal human, but the father and s ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Craig rated it did not like it
A father describes a road trip he takes with his autistic son so that they can become closer. So far so good.

However, I found the author to be way too self-absorbed. And the writing in places is awful. Check out this splat of literary vomitus:

"Las Vegas is tired in the morning, a sequined hooker waking with mascara streaks of black tears and dagger slits in the rising sun in the stretched holes of her fishnets. Like vampires, gamblers see the rising sun and scurry inside the nearest coffee shop
Kristin Strong
Jul 05, 2012 Kristin Strong rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I heard the author on NPR and was intrigued by the premise: A writer, Buzz Bissinger, takes his developmentally disabled adult son, Zach, on a cross-country road trip, hoping for an epiphany or at least a few discoveries about the son on the way. Woven into the road-book plot are glimpses of the author's and his family's past, the birth of Zach and his twin brother Gerry (when the three minutes between the boys' exits from the womb and even the way they lay within it mad ...more
Linda C
Jan 18, 2016 Linda C rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
This memoir was an easy read, yet was a very powerful book. Buzz Bissinger writes eloquently about taking a cross-country trip with his brain-damaged adult son Zach, his overpowering love for this man/child, their often difficult relationship, and his attempt, through the trip, to understand his son better.

Zach and his twin brother, Gerry, were born very prematurely in 1983. While Gerry generally was able to overcome any lingering cognitive birth issues (at the time of the road trip, Gerry is in
Jul 29, 2012 Meghan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Meghan by: Alison
Shelves: own, dmbc, kindle, book-club, memoir
I flip flopped on what to rate this. The story itself is interesting. As a parent, I give nothing but respect to those parents with children who have any kind of disability. The challenges they must face are enormous and the few I have personally known have done it with such grace and love. But it does make me question my abilities and whether or not I could handle it.

But the fact is Bissinger is not really likeable. His insistence on making his son conform to his wishes is uncomfortable. Openly
Sep 26, 2012 Melinda rated it it was ok
So in this book, the author's goal is to be as honest as he possibly can be about having a special needs son. I totally respect this, and I'm in no way trying to judge how hard it would be to parent a special needs child. I've never had to do this. BUT...the author is such a self-centered jerk in so many aspects of his life (not just his parenting), that I found it very difficult to keep reading. He forces his son to take a road trip that the son does not want. In the epilogue at the end of the ...more
May 19, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I know that some people who read this book didn't like Bissinger's self absorption, but I felt this is what made the book honest and real. I don't know if I could be as honest as he was in this memoir; I think he is brave to portray himself in a bad light as much as he does. I think anyone with a special needs child must feel what Bissinger does at some point in their lives (maybe not to the extent that he does, but hell, my kids are "normal" and I can empathize with Bissinger's thoughts). I lik ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Cindy rated it did not like it
I was so excited about this book, because I, too, have an extraordinary son who is very similar to Zach in many ways. But I was very disappointed by the author and his attitude and thoughts and language and actions and the way he wrote about his son and even thought about him.

The day he never wants to think about EVER?? The day his twin sons were born, even 24 years later. Why? Because one is "perfect" and one is not. And that's hard for him to get past.

Get over yourself, Buzz. It's not all ab
Jul 29, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
I didn't much care for the father....whiny, ungrateful and his honesty about his feelings about his son were disturbingly cruel. I'm happy that his son will never have to read this book for himself and read his fathers rantings about how awful it is to have a grown child with a mental disability. Bissinger is even embarrassed by his'd think after 20 years, he would have come to grips with it by now. However, I enjoyed the read. Hated the overuse of profanity, especially directed at hi ...more
Frieda Vizel
Aug 24, 2015 Frieda Vizel rated it liked it
A good enough book; it's not like there's much of a story there in the first place, and with what he's got, a road trip with an adult disabled son stretched to book length, the product is good, the writing and honesty carries it. I would have given it four stars but one star is lost for the mistrust that I feel when an experience is created for writing, when a road trip is staged for a book, as was obviously the case here. This staging, to me, is a different kind of dishonesty of the James Frey ...more
Jul 01, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing
It's a cliche to say a book is "honest," but something about Bissinger's willingness to put himself--and his relationship with his son with special needs--out there in a compassionate, funny, and challenging way works. As they drive across the country, in a route no one else would take because Zach is only interested in places where he has previously lived and knows people, Bissinger learns. But he doesn't have the heart-warming heart-to-hearts that he expects (and that sometimes being trapped i ...more
Whistlers Mom
Sep 24, 2016 Whistlers Mom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some, life is all about flying with broken wings.

Every parent experiences joy and sorrow, hope and disappointment, pride and shame. The parent of a special needs child experiences all the usual parental emotions in a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows with the knowledge that the "job" is never-ending. His "child" will never become an adult.

Zack's premature entrance into the world left him with limitations that define his life, yet his strengths and the devotion of his parents have allowed
Nov 24, 2015 Kim rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Linda Berger
Jun 26, 2012 Linda Berger rated it it was amazing
No child arrives with an instruction manual. Mr. Bissinger details the roller coaster life of a father who has a child with special needs. A human and honest account about the world of parenthood. Everyone who has seen, loved, liked, or taught a child should with any kind of differences should read this book. In fact, any parent should.
Jun 06, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It can be a bit hard to read as he is quite honest. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that I doubt I would ever read it again. I'm trying to save 5 stars for books I want to read over and over and over. Also, he drives into Texas and "Burkburnet County". Y'all know, Burkburnet is in Wichita County.
Dec 02, 2015 Clint rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Friday Night Lights" author's journey of an across-the-country trip with his autistic son, who was one of twins. The author, Buzz Bissinger, appears to be a terribly angry man, which he at times admits, about his son's autism, about the lack of time he spends with him, about the checkered success in his career, about having to deal with his dying parents, about his failed marriages and host of other things. On the trip with his son, who is then around 23, he repeatedly asks his son if he loves ...more
Marilee Steffen
Buzz Bissinger, best selling author of "Friday Night Lights", writes this memoir of a trip he and his son took from Philadelphia to L.A. Zach is a twin who, along with his brother Gerry, was born premature. Zach sustained brain damage due to severe oxygen loss during that birth. Now in his mid-twenties, Zach continues to struggle to function in the "normal" world. Bissinger writes very candidly and honestly about his feelings and relationship with this son, whom he loves dearly. Still, he strugg ...more
Leslie Klingensmith
Mar 18, 2013 Leslie Klingensmith rated it really liked it
Lovely. Honest, redemptive, and hopeful.
Aug 13, 2015 Patricia rated it liked it
Really 3.5 stars. I appreciated the warts-and-all honesty that Bissinger displayed in this memoir about his relationship with his son. But many times it seemed like the father was projecting his own many expectations about their relationship and his own fantasies onto his son instead of just appreciating him for who he was. I do like that he was very respectful of his son's different abilities, and by the end of a long road trip he took with him, he did seem to "get" his son a little better.
Aug 04, 2012 Sue rated it it was amazing
Bissinger, best known as the author of the Texas football book Friday Night Lights, which became a movie and a TV show, has twin sons, Gerry and Zach. They were born six weeks too early. Zach, who was born three minutes after Gerry, suffered brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. As a result, he has severe problems. He is developmentally disabled and his social interaction mimics autism. In some areas, such as remembering names and dates, he shows amazing ability, but he can’t read, can’t under ...more
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
This is a well-written, enjoyable, and often humorous book about a father really coming to grips with his son as he is: a man with the limitations of brain damage but with some extraordinary gifts as well.

Buzz Bissinger decides to take his adult son, Zach, on a cross-country road trip in order for them to "bond" and have more time together. But a cross-country trip with Zach is very different than one with someone who does not have the peculiarities of a 24 year-old man with autism/savant issues
I cannot give this book a rating. I picked it up semi-randomly at the library, thinking I'd read a good review of it, but not really remembering much about it.

It would be churlish of me to complain about Bissinger's self-absorption and lack of filter; I had some inkling of it going in. I'll do it anyway, though. The book seesaws between genuine affection for Zach and a constant desire for Bissinger to turn the focus onto himself so he can show the reader exactly what kind of self-hating ass he i
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H.G. Bissinger has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the National Headliner Award, and the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel for his reporting. The author has written for the television series NYPD Blue and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He lives in Philadelphia.
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