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Fathering Daughters: Reflections by Men

Literally hundreds of books cast light on the mother-daughter bond, but the relationship between a girl and her other parent remains stubbornly hidden in shadow. The strikingly lucent essays in Fathering Daughters do their best to repair that imbalance. There's Rodger Kamentz, who prefers speaking English straight up rather than babbling baby talk at his infant Anya--"Why offer her ears a blurry target?"--and Rick Bass, who worries about tweaking his daughters' political consciousness too hard. You want your daughters to loathe injustice, he says, but do you want them to burn as erratically and out-of-control as you do--with that much bitterness? Psychiatrist Samuel Shem observes American gender differences with some alarm as his 3-year-old daughter anxiously considers what to wear before a play date where the boy will snub her attempts to connect. Darker tales surface from Gary Soto, drowning in depression, and William Petersen, on a vacation with a daughter dying of leukemia. A few essays are irritatingly narcissistic, but the best showcase some tremendous writers capturing murmurs that swell to a roar as they echo back from our own lives. - Francesca Coltrera