Monday, February 1, 2016

All Out by Kevin Newman and Alex Newman

Well known Canadian and American anchor, Kevin Newman, and his son Alex wrote alternating chapters of this book which provides their insights into Alex's childhood and, in particular, his coming out to his family.

The best feature of this book is that the two authors independently wrote their chapters, relying on a third party to weave them together.  They did not read each other's work until the entire project was complete.  As a result we get a fabulous glimpse at how personal history is in the eye of the beholder. Father and son describe many of the same events from vastly different perspectives - and I think this book could only have helped them gain tremendous insight into each other and their relationship as it cleared up misunderstandings that arose from these different perspectives.

Kevin describes an unhappy childhood - he was poor in sports, unpopular and interested only in the news.  His parents divorced and his father was never terribly demonstrative leading him to believe that he never met his father's expectations.  When Alex was born he wanted to give him everything he did not have - so enrolled him in sports activities and scouts in an effort to make him athletic and popular.  But Alex was also a loner, more interested in lego than sports, and was bullied by the more popular boys in school.  So he also grew up feeling he could never live up to his father's expectations - and that his father was trying to turn him into a different kind of boy.

We also got to closely follow the ups and downs of Kevin's career - gaining particular insight into his failed attempt to anchor Good Morning America.  We also see his struggle to be a good father - and how he is torn by the feeling he needed to be a good provider, but also wanted to be closer to his children.  While he clearly loves and admires his wife, you could also see how he envied the seemingly easy relationship she had with the children.  His struggle was interesting to me as it gave a male perspective on the challenge of "work - life balance", which is so often depicted as a woman's problem.

The final few chapters deal with Alex's coming to terms with the fact that he is gay, his coming out and how his father deals with it.  It is a struggle for both of them and it is again interesting to see how they both misinterpret the other's needs and intentions.

In all this is a well written account of two lives, and more importantly the strengths and weaknesses of a father son relationship.

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