In Conversation with Jason Fagone
Dan Kois and his wife always did their best for their kids. Busy professionals living in the D.C. suburbs, they scheduled their children's time wisely, and when they weren't arguing over screen time, the Kois family--Dan, his wife Alia, and their two pre-teen daughters--could each be found searching for their own happiness. But aren't families supposed to achieve happiness together?
In this eye-opening, heartwarming, and very funny book, the fractious, loving Kois family goes in search of other places on the map that might offer them the chance to live away from home--but closer together. Over a year the family lands in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and small-town Kansas. The goal? To get out of their rut of busyness and distractedness and to see how other families live outside the East Coast parenting bubble.
How to Be a Family brings readers along as the Kois girls--witty, solitary, extremely online Lyra and goofy, sensitive, social butterfly Harper--hike through the Kiwi bush, ride bikes to a Dutch school in the pouring rain, battle iguanas in their Costa Rican kitchen, and learn to love a town where everyone knows your name. Meanwhile, Dan interviews neighbors, public officials, and scholars to learn why each of these places work the way they do. Will this trip change the Kois family's lives? Or do families take their problems and conflicts with them wherever we go?
A journalistic memoir filled with heart, empathy, and lots of whining, How to Be a Family will make readers dream about the amazing adventures their own families might take.
Dan Kois is an editor at Slate, founding host of the podcast Mom and Dad Are Fighting, and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.
Jason Fagone is a journalist who covers science, technology, and culture. Named one of the “Ten Young Writers on the Rise” by the Columbia Journalism Review, he works at the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for GQ, Esquire, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Mother Jones, and Philadelphia magazine. Fagone is also the author of Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, the X Prize, and the Race to Revive America and Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream. He lives in San Francisco, California.