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Cursed by a Happy Childhood: Letters from a Dad to a Daughterby Carl Lennertz
Synopses & Reviews
For every parent who ever wondered if they were smart enough, resourceful enough, and just plain good enough to tackle one of the most important jobs in the world.
No one ever is, of course, but perhaps the secret to somehow pulling it off lies in telling ourselves again the true stories of our own childhood, as filtered through our less innocent but inevitably wiser eyes. That's exactly what Carl Lennertz does here, recollecting early experiences to which we can all relate: friendship and cliques, first job and first love, and having lots of time to do nothing at all. Ultimately, these reflections — some that will make you laugh out loud and some that will surely make you cringe — are about what we have in common with our children and what we know they have yet to learn... hopefully the easy way, which is to say lovingly, from us.
Cursed by a Happy Childhood is a warm, funny, big-hearted reminder that the little moments are the big moments, that we should share our stories and take heart in the way they make us feel a little closer to one another, a little stronger, and a little happier to face each day.
"In a project begun as a diary for his 11-year-old daughter, publishing vet Lennertz, currently HarperCollins's marketing v-p, chronicles his 'safe, fun, basic childhood' in the 1960s in a small, rural town on Long Island. Writing in brief, epistolary chapters that revolve around themes like cliques, summer jobs, comic books and television shows, Lennertz routinely draws parallels between his experiences and those of his daughter, a modern kid coming of age in the city. Lighthearted and nostalgic, the book is written for two audiences: Lennertz's fellow baby boomers and their preteen kids, in terms that can be digested easily by both. Like all parents, Lennertz struggles between protecting his daughter and giving her a sense of independence, as when he allows her to take a first unchaperoned walk around the neighborhood. In this episode, he comments, 'kids actually do want parents to be clear about what the boundaries are and to help them shape and understand their world,' and he recognizes that these borders become more difficult to define as children get older. Lennertz is comfortable bending the rules of proper child-rearing, as when he proclaims, 'Thank goodness for television... how could any parent get by without it?' He also finds humor in family quagmires, as when he dresses up as Barney the Dinosaur for his daughter's second birthday party only to terrify two of her young guests. Acknowledging the 'Norman Rockwellian' nature of his childhood experiences, Lennertz still addresses universal truths about parenting and growing up. This is a charming meditation on the imperfect art of raising children. Agent, Sarah Burnes. (May) Forecast: Lennertz has the connections and experience to get lots of media coverage, aided by an NPR campaign and five-city author tour. This could be a popular Father's Day gift." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Heartfelt... Entertains... Enlightens." Miami Herald
"This leisurely book celebrates the timeless... Will strike a chord with readers." Times Picayune (New Orleans)
Cursed by a Happy Childhood is a warm, funny, bighearted collection of one dad's reminiscences about the kinds of lessons we all learn--sometimes the hard way, often without even realizing it--on the road to becoming a grown-up. The book began as a diary of sorts that Carl Lennertz wanted to keep for his eleven-year-old daughter, a way to let her know that he understood something about being a child and dealing with the milestones she would soon be approaching as a teenager.
As Carl began to write, he realized that his stories--of friendship and cliques, fitting in while being yourself (a neat trick!), music and books, first job and first love, teachers and other role models--are stories we all share and are as poignant and recognizable to parents and adults as they would be to his daughter. The book soon grew into a keenly observed, deeply felt reflection on the ways we're all pretty much the same despite the obvious differences demanded by our stations in life--old or young, parent or child, male or female. Who, after all, ever really gets control of their inner kaleidoscopic mix of hopefulness, vulnerability, silliness, uncertainty, ambition . . . and fear of looking dorky in front of the cool kids?
Cursed by a Happy Childhood is rich with vignettes of youth and life that point to truths larger than the stories themselves. Most make us smile, a few make us wince, and all epitomize the power of memory to entertain, educate, and affect. The lesson that Carl learned--which we can all learn through his gently humorous and sometimes profound words--is that the little moments are the big moments, and that we can and should enjoy our own stories and take heart in the magic way theyhave of helping us feel a little closer, a little stronger, and a little happier to face each day.
Inspired by Lennertz's wish to convey to his 11-year-old daughter what he thought and felt as he approached adulthood, this book soon grew into a keenly observed, deeply felt reflection on the ways we're all pretty much the same.
About the Author
Carl Lennertz has worked in publishing for more than twenty years. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. This is his first book.
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