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"Why Do I Love These People?": Understanding, Surviving, and Creating Your Own Family Paperback – December 26, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 19 families profiled in this absorbing book face a familiar litany of domestic dysfunction: infidelities, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, messy divorces and the intergenerational estrangement of immigrants. Novelist and social documentarian Bronson (What Should I Do with My Life?) finds the solutions to their dilemmas in the good old-fashioned elements of character and action, as people take stock of themselves and their motivations and painstakingly piece together their relationships and lives. Bronson's is an unromantic view of family life; its foundations, he believes, are not soul-mate bonding or dramatic emotional catharses, but steady habits of hard work and compromise, realistic expectations and the occasional willingness to sever a relationship that's beyond repair. But he also has an optimistic view of today's crazy-quilt of blended and unconventional families, reassuring commitment-shy young adults that "the golden era of family is not in our past, it's in our future." Bronson occasionally lapses into shallow pop psychology, as when he chalks up one husband's philandering to the oxytocin "high" caused by sex with someone new. But usually he offers a probing, clear-eyed, hopeful narrative of familial problems that many readers will recognize. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Bronson interviewed 700 people, 19 of whom are chronicled here. His book is "about decoding the mystery of family life." The stories center on men and women who lead satisfying lives with their families despite destructive childhoods, people who overcome their impulses to repeat what was inflicted upon them, and those who heal in their own particular way, not conforming to any fashion. There are some relationships rescued from the brink and some people whose lives improved after a much-needed divorce or break from their parents. Some couples created compromises by which both get their needs met and contribute equally to the family culture. Others take responsibility for the rest of their lives and no longer let themselves be victims of their experiences. The author examines such subjects as divorce, death, illness, money, prejudice, and abuse. The author of What Should I Do with My Life? (2002) posits that to give and receive love during hard times, it helps to have been shown how beforehand. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's NurtureShock was on the New York Times bestseller list for six months. One of the most influential books about children ever published, NurtureShock landed on more than 35 "Year's Best" lists and has been translated into 16 languages. The authors have won nine national awards for their reporting, including the PEN USA Award for Literary Journalism and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Outstanding Journalism.

Prior to their collaboration, Bronson authored five books, including What Should I Do with My Life?, a #1 New York Times bestseller with more than ten months on the list. He has been on Oprah, on every national morning show, and on the cover of five magazines, including Wired and Fast Company. His first novel, Bombardiers, was a #1 bestseller in the United Kingdom. His books have been translated into 20 languages. Po speaks regularly at colleges and community "town hall" events. He is a founder of The San Francisco Writer's Grotto, a cooperative workspace for writers and filmmakers. He also serves as volunteer president of the San Francisco Vikings Youth Soccer League. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kanishka Sinha on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I think the most striking part of this book is that you feel comforted by the fact that the problems you're facing in your own relationships are commonplace. They're not dysfunctional. Every family has its share of issues and you don't need to feel overly guilty for yours. The book's underlying theme is that families that honesty, consideration, character, belief and perhaps above everything else - resilience, can get you through the worst debacles and that at the end of the day it's probably (though not always) worth the effort.

Stories include:

Resentment about controlling parents who appear to display conditional loving and also about appreciating how much of their lives parents sacrifice to bring the kids up; the search for redemption after abandoning a kid or cheating on a wife, the courage required to break relationships that are dead and the perseverance required to bring one back from the dead (and the effect on kids), dealing with the families of your in-laws and family objection to marriage, how to deal with kids who are falling into bad habits when you feel powerless to influence their decisions because they no longer respect you or listen to you, dealing with the death of a child, how we feel obligated to spend time with our families rather than actually wanting to spend time with them and what we are losing, etc.

Although it may seem that most people cannot relate to these situations... actually I felt an amazing amount of empathy for the families and came away with a renewed conviction that I can get the perfect family life (with all it's frustrations and headaches) and balance it with everything.

If you have any relationship, friendship that you have a certain amount of frustration, resignation about then I strongly recommend this book. It is one of those books that if it hits you at the right time - it could change your relationships and your life.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Enriquez on January 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Life can be quite a maze of great joys and incredible pain, but every step of the way the greatest thing one can hope for is the capacity to learn and grow. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Pain is a great obstacle and most of us find ourselves trapped for most of our lives by our past.

This book is a true blessing. The book is filled with tons of stories from a multicultural array of relationship experiences where people learn to overcome the life's great obstacles and capture the true meaning of being alive. This book came to me at a low point in my life, when hope was slowly fading from my heart. This book gave me faith that pain is not an end, but a bump in life's journey. It is impossible to read this book and not come away inspired and nurtured by the stories of the people in its pages.

Do not miss the opportunity to experience this treasure as it will nourish your soul, but be warned-- you will be moved to buy this book for the people you care most about in life because this truly blessed experience is not meant to remain a secret.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Donna Delaune on April 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Po Bronson's WHY DO I LOVE THESE PEOPLE?, is exactly what the subtitle says...honest & amazing stories of real families. Many of them will open your eyes...some of them will bring tears to your eyes. This book is a must for any troubled family, or anyone who wants a "real" look at families around the world.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on July 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm going to admit, the first reason I purchased this book was because of its title: WHY DO I LOVE THESE PEOPLE? I was in a bookstore after it was released and saw a customer pick up the book. She showed it to the person who was with her and she said "Why do I love these people? Because I have to, that's why." The two began laughing, no doubt thinking about members of their own families. Of course intriguing titles are not always enough, and when I read the book flap and saw that it was written by Po Bronson who wrote WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE?, I had a pretty good idea that this would be an interesting book.

Bronson does not present typical families in this book, nor does he try and find atypical or controversial families to fill the pages. Bookstore shelves are already lined with such titles. Instead, Bronson began corresponding with people, using the method he utilized in WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE and let their stories fill the pages. We meet a wide group of people who have all sorts of struggles such as a woman who wakes from a near death experience and wonders what her life is all about, a man who loses his son and his loss reshapes his life, a woman from Northern Ireland who makes radical changes in her life for the betterment of her children or a woman who decides she needs to cheat on her husband, with his permission, to save a monotonous marriage. These are just a few of the stories. Bronson never sensationalizes his subjects, which may be why even if readers have little or nothing in common with some of the people, they'll still be moved by the stories.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Charles Fratantoni on November 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a father, a son, a brother and a husband. You learn how to do this mostly by on the job training and watching (or missing) your parents. Still, for me, I never know if I'm doing it right exactly,if my feelings are fair, if my family's normal or crazy, if we sacrifice or if we're selfish. You can't ask your family, they love you and dislike you at the same time. Whatever they say will be colored. You can't ask strangers for their intimate stories to compare yours to, you'll get locked up. What you can do is read this book. It is full of truth and rich with emotion. Po Bronsons ability to bring you into these peoples lives so fully is amazing. My wife and I passed the book between us, each reading it a story at a time, often one standing over the other to snatch it back as they finished.This book is a rare and magical experience. I can't stop thinking about, and oddly, missing the families Mr. Bronson introduced us to. The house was full of tissues, and our hearts were just..full.

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