Thursday, October 21, 2021

Review: 100 Questions for Dad

Apparently, Jeff Bogle's dad is the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. At least, that was my first thought when I read the first sentence of the introduction to his book, 100 Questions for Dad. "My dad would often talk about playing basketball on the streets of West Philadelphia," should be enough to send any 90s kid into the second stanza of the classic Will Smith theme song. The rest of the introduction will make you feel guilty for humming that tune, though. It's a short and touching story about wishing he'd had a better record of his dad's stories, the ones he'd heard growing up about his dad growing up. 

100 Questions for Dad is a guided journal, divided into five sections that aims to provide families with that record. The book starts with the premise that dads are super heroes, and this is a chance for them to record their origin stories. Each section asks the story teller prompts on different topics. From, The Early Years, to Love and Friendship, to Being a Dad, the journal asks fathers to do something they haven't traditionally done, "be as candid as possible and allow yourself the opportunity to be vulnerable."

The book is interspersed with quotes from authors and notable people, men and women, about their own fathers. Each prompt takes up one page and allows roughly twelve lines to write on. It's nice that the writer is encouraged to keep things succinct. If you pick one up, you won't feel overwhelmed, or struggle to fill a page. The goal is to encourage people to see the value of story telling, in digestible chunks that go deeper than the anecdotes dad tells in the car on long trips.

One of the striking things about the book is its undeclared but noticeable commitment to inclusion. Bogle said on his Dad 2.0 podcast that the book emphasizes, "the importance of father figures, the way I incorporated pronouns, it's for anyone who associates with being a father in any way and what that looks like in your life." The prompts are broad enough that no matter what your life experience or interests, you'll be able to answer every one. For example, Bogle, who has been a music reviewer among his many gigs, wanted to include a question about music. The publisher came back and asked about father figures who may be Deaf or hard of hearing or for whom music isn't otherwise an important part of their lives. Conversations like that led to an effort for the book to open up space for father figures who may use a variety of pronouns or encompass intersectional identities. The music question was changed to a more universal prompt about art in any medium. 

I'm personally excited to continue writing in 100 Questions for Dad and eventually leaving it for my kids to read. I look forward to sharing the stories with them as I write. I look forward to gifting a copy to the dads in my life. Heck, I'd even like to gift a copy to you. Yes, you. If you'd like to win copy of 100 Questions for Dad, just follow the Raffle instructions below. Then go tell your origin story!

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