From Publishers Weekly
In Gummer's humorous if subdued debut, a suburban Little League serves as the nexus for thwarted ambitions, competitive intrigues, marital rifts, and, as an afterthought, kids who might be interested in baseball. Ben Holden, recently returned to his California hometown from New York, becomes a reluctant coach, grappling with his late father's legacy as a revered high school athletic mentor and the ambivalence that comes with middle-aged parenting and a mature, mostly stable marriage. He's appealing and accessible, as are many of Gummer's cast of family members, friends and neighbors. There's the deftly rendered list of things Ben's sister prizes: "their McMansion in the tony, new and also curiously named CascadeForest development of Sacramento, her Lexus hybrid and his Prius, their Pottery Barn furnishings, her Tory Burch Shoes and matching handbags." But too often, these descriptions substitute for character development and depth, and while the slew of subplots—the most dramatic of which involves low-grade sexual tension between Ben and a sexy ultrasound technician—are entertaining, they can't mask the fact that the novel fails to really deliver on the promise of its title. (Apr.)
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The title, Parents Behaving Badly,
pretty much says it all. In his debut novel, Scott Gummer lifts the cap off Little League to reveal a teeming mass of bellowed epithets, thwarted ambition, underhanded double-dealing and parents eyeing each other lustfully in the bleachers. Thanks to his father’s legacy as a legendary high school coach, narrator Ben Holden recoils from baseball the way most of us would at the underside of a dugout bench. But after he and his wife, Jili, move back to their California home town, their sons get swept up in the family pastime, and Ben finds himself nursing a crush on the red-haired mom of a teammate. Gummer, a Little League coach himself, excels in hilariously detailed descriptions of the sport and its participants. Parents Behaving Badly will leave you laughing and grateful that your kid decided to go out for soccer.From The Washington Post
Scott Gummer's first novel uses a popular sport—baseball—in one of the best ways a novel can: as a backdrop for dark comedy. Here, Ben and Jili, a level-headed pair of suburban parents, find themselves in the middle of the very strange, weirdly competitive world of Little League baseball, where the kids are nervous, the coaches are punishing and the adults' memories of childhood are surprisingly fresh. In arching a brow at youth sports, Gummer resists the urge to make all of the parents awful (only some of them are awful) or to discount the very real trade-off that sometimes exists between winning as much as possible and having a good experience as a player. As much as it's a sharp-tongued takedown of win-at-all-costs culture, Parents Behaving Badly
is also a teasing, but ultimately affectionate, story about a happy marriage grappling with the approach of middle age and the pressures of parenting kids who are getting older every day.REVIEWS
“Parents Behaving Badly isn't just a sharp satire about Little League madness; it's also a shrewd and sympathetic portrait of a mid-life marriage. Scott Gummer writes with equal insight about wayward spouses and conniving coaches.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Leftovers
“Scott Gummer does a great job of reminding us why kids play sports, why parents coach and, with tongue in cheek, what happens when parents forget that sports are supposed to be fun. With a great deal of humor he never loses sight of the life lessons baseball teaches kids and parents alike. Parents Behaving Badly is a thoroughly entertaining story of a youth baseball season that should be a must read.”
—Cal Ripken, Jr., member, National Baseball Hall of Fame
"Parents Behaving Badly is a devastatingly accurate—and laugh out loud funny—look at the culture of contemporary youth sports, the boys and girls who just want to have fun, and the parents who do more harm than good despite their best intentions."
—Hannah Storm, ESPN Anchor & Journalist
"Indispensable reading for anyone attempting to navigate the often bizarre snake pit of youth sports. Wickedly hilarious, brilliantly written, and filled with sharp observations that will stay with you."
—Leigh Steinberg, sports superagent
"Parents Behaving Badly is the perfect melding of the modern American bloodsports of Little League and wedlock: harrowing and warm-hearted.”
—Larry Doyle, author of I Love You, Beth Cooper and Go Mutants