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How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together

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In this "refreshingly relatable" (Outside) memoir, Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his family on a journey around the world to change their lives together. What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be a family? Dan Kois and his wife always did their best for their kids. Busy professionals living in the() In this "refreshingly relatable" (Outside) memoir, Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his family on a journey around the world to change their lives together. What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be a family? 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 family memoir, the fractious, loving Kois' go 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-like 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.


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In this "refreshingly relatable" (Outside) memoir, Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his family on a journey around the world to change their lives together. What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be a family? Dan Kois and his wife always did their best for their kids. Busy professionals living in the() In this "refreshingly relatable" (Outside) memoir, Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his family on a journey around the world to change their lives together. What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be a family? 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 family memoir, the fractious, loving Kois' go 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-like 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.

30 review for How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I probably should have quit this book 1/2 way through. But I didn't. I wanted to get to Kansas- that's why. Honestly I don't think I have ever read a memoir or travelogue of such wordiness verbosity smugness. And this man thinks he is "kind". LOL! It's beyond belief that they used the word "refreshing" to describe in the trailer. The places they lived for each 3 month period were more interesting than the writer. That's for sure. And his wife and girls? Well, there's too much arrogant, elitist D I probably should have quit this book 1/2 way through. But I didn't. I wanted to get to Kansas- that's why. Honestly I don't think I have ever read a memoir or travelogue of such wordiness verbosity smugness. And this man thinks he is "kind". LOL! It's beyond belief that they used the word "refreshing" to describe in the trailer. The places they lived for each 3 month period were more interesting than the writer. That's for sure. And his wife and girls? Well, there's too much arrogant, elitist Dan think overview to really fully understand any of their deepest or varied opinions/ positions. And generally few insights or anything essential. Except perhaps occasionally minutia tidbits which occurred from general reflections of the topics he inquired (or choose for them like the God belief one)- for them to "answer". The next time I come across any non-fiction with the types of condescending commentary to or about fellow Americans that appeared in the first few chapters of this one, I won't continue. Because the read isn't worth it. He didn't learn much either for his "widening" year, because he was just as insufferable in his commentary about "other" at the end as he was at the beginning.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I really enjoyed this book, and clearly am the exact right demographic to appreciate it--we're about 8 years behind Kois's family, but we too are an editor and an attorney who moved to the DC suburbs with a kid, few friends, and too little time. So I can definitely get where he's coming from. I loved the author's sense of humor and the glimpses of parenting styles abroad. I also appreciated the extent to which he resisted packaging everything into a neat arc, where he went on this journey and le I really enjoyed this book, and clearly am the exact right demographic to appreciate it--we're about 8 years behind Kois's family, but we too are an editor and an attorney who moved to the DC suburbs with a kid, few friends, and too little time. So I can definitely get where he's coming from. I loved the author's sense of humor and the glimpses of parenting styles abroad. I also appreciated the extent to which he resisted packaging everything into a neat arc, where he went on this journey and learned things and was forever changed/improved by it. That's rarely how life works, and that's not how it works here. My biggest takeaway from the book is how much better and more fun parenting is when you have a community around you--something we're currently sorely lacking, as are lots of parents. In any case, an excellent read for parents and anyone else interested in the messy process of raising kids, here or anywhere.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marissa St.Marseille

    BUYER BEWARE! The title is deceiving! I was only 11% into the book, when I realized this was more about the author's political agenda. It's just more Trump bashing and US shaming. If you don't get enough of that from the news media, then maybe you would enjoy the book. The end game for me was when the author writes about their move to New Zealand, and how his 11 year old daughter upon meeting new people, starts out every conversation with "Sorry about Trump." (Page 37). That was enough for me, BUYER BEWARE! The title is deceiving! I was only 11% into the book, when I realized this was more about the author's political agenda. It's just more Trump bashing and US shaming. If you don't get enough of that from the news media, then maybe you would enjoy the book. The end game for me was when the author writes about their move to New Zealand, and how his 11 year old daughter upon meeting new people, starts out every conversation with "Sorry about Trump." (Page 37). That was enough for me, I hit the delete button.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tish

    I like the premise..... But I see no way to truly integrate into communities and learn from their different parenting styles in 12 weeks. I guess I should be talking to my neighbors who moved to Scotland for a year so the husband could continue his education. Or my college friend who packed up her kids, quit her job, and is living in Germany for two years. Those people have had time to integrate and learn from the culture they're living in. This author and his family spent I like the premise..... But I see no way to truly integrate into communities and learn from their different parenting styles in 12 weeks. I guess I should be talking to my neighbors who moved to Scotland for a year so the husband could continue his education. Or my college friend who packed up her kids, quit her job, and is living in Germany for two years. Those people have had time to integrate and learn from the culture they're living in. This author and his family spent a college quarter in each place. That's hardly enough time to figure out where your sociology class is, much less figure out how this new culture can improve your parenting skills and revolutionize your family. I like the premise, but not the product.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Fair warning: I'm a big fan of Dan's from the podcast, Mom and Dad Are Fighting. I find him immensely relatable, funny and frankly, I just want to have a beer with him and vent about parenting. This book is refreshingly honest and funny, a fascinating study in family and cultural dynamics. Highly recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    Dan Kois and his wife Alia Smith realized their lives in Arlington, VA were overworked and over stressed. Both worked long hours, their kids attended a high achieving/high pressure school and they battled about screen time. They decided to take a year and live in different places to see how others lived. They spent a few months each in different countries--New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica--ending in an area of America very different from their home: rural Kansas. I enjoyed see Dan Kois and his wife Alia Smith realized their lives in Arlington, VA were overworked and over stressed. Both worked long hours, their kids attended a high achieving/high pressure school and they battled about screen time. They decided to take a year and live in different places to see how others lived. They spent a few months each in different countries--New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica--ending in an area of America very different from their home: rural Kansas. I enjoyed seeing what aspects of each area they liked best (ex: the extremely bike friendly structure of the Netherlands). Kois's writing is enjoyable to read and I appreciated his honest style. There's no holier than thou parenting advice here. This is how his family truly is. I empathized with Lyra, his then 11 year old daughter, who instead of trekking around the world and seeking adventure and the outdoors, just wanted to be left alone to read. It was especially painful to read about her experience in the Dutch school, where they prize normality and couldn't abide by the idea that she would voice a dissenting opinion. As someone who lives in rural Minnesota, I'll admit I was rooting for them to settle down in Kansas. Kois talks about many of the benefits of this lifestyle: no traffic, cheap housing, free evenings (not overworked), friendly people, a sense of community and the ability to start programs etc where you see something lacking. I loved Kois' description of the Hays Public Library and the awesome librarians that work there. It reminded me of the public library where I work :D. In the end Kois avoids taking an even higher stress job in Silicon Valley. It was painful to read the salary he could have had ($750,000 dollars--I didn't even know this was a thing), but redeeming that his family realized their original complaints (stress, long hours, etc) would have only been exasperated with this lifestyle change. Recommended for parents who like to read memoirs or about travel or parenting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Dye

    Had no intention of reading, much less buying, this book until I heard the author read a chapter aloud on one of my favorite podcasts. (Mom and dad are fighting) The existential crisises he spoke about were so relatable that I immediately bought the book. Loved it. Smart and funny, shares the kids perspective, honest about the struggles and the joys. I very much relate to how he thinks about parenting, and I appreciate that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Dan is so much fun as a podcaster, but as a parenting writer - yawn.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was fascinating. Typical upper middle class two-professional family decides to try to become closer as a family and find new life balance. So they lived for three months each in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Hays, Kansas. (Yay Hays, my grandparents lived there for a while!) I loved the honesty and the experiences of this family. They eventually returned home, and went back to their usual lives more or less, but made a few priority shifts that they had learned about else This was fascinating. Typical upper middle class two-professional family decides to try to become closer as a family and find new life balance. So they lived for three months each in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Hays, Kansas. (Yay Hays, my grandparents lived there for a while!) I loved the honesty and the experiences of this family. They eventually returned home, and went back to their usual lives more or less, but made a few priority shifts that they had learned about elsewhere. I especially liked that the didn't spent just days or a week or two in each place, but a few months. Very well done.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I love a good travel memoir-especially about families traveling around the world! This one was super interesting-and the author didn't sugar coat the trip. It was rocky and not fun as a parent sometimes. I was especially intrigued by the schools around the world their daughters encountered and the different parenting styles. I think my favorite place was New Zealand!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy Newton

    How fun to read a book by a guy who grew up in the same sphere I did. This was a fantastic - and honest - telling of a family adventure. Great work Dan.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joe Oser

    ‘How To Be A Family’ is the story of a middle class professional (the author) and his wife Alia (less about her later) also a middle class professional, who tire of the white middle class professional rat race in suburban Washington D.C. so decide to travel for a year spending four months in Wellington, New Zealand, four months in the Amsterdam area in the Netherlands, four months in a small beach-tourist town in northwest Costa Rica, and four months in heartland U.S.A. - Hays, Kansas. The child ‘How To Be A Family’ is the story of a middle class professional (the author) and his wife Alia (less about her later) also a middle class professional, who tire of the white middle class professional rat race in suburban Washington D.C. so decide to travel for a year spending four months in Wellington, New Zealand, four months in the Amsterdam area in the Netherlands, four months in a small beach-tourist town in northwest Costa Rica, and four months in heartland U.S.A. - Hays, Kansas. The children are Lyra, 12, and Harper, 10. The book is purportedly about family life and an attempt to improve the family’s interactions primarily by spending forced time together in unfamiliar places. The book spends an equal amount of time providing ‘insights’ about the four locales so you can also view it as an (unsuccessful) travelogue. Ten year old Harper is always making friends, enjoys and interacts with her surroundings, and is generally a delightful child. Twelve year old Lyra is proudly and determinedly none of these things. Harper is a real person and no doubt terrific. But her portrait by her father, the author, is one dimensional and hence not very interesting. Perhaps all happy children are the same and it is not worth exploring their psyche and how the different cultures impact them. Lyra is the squeaky wheel and gets all the author’s ink. But that’s okay because she is the most interesting member of the family. Lyra likes to read and write and spend time on the internet. She is oppositional to her father. Just like at home, the author’s efforts to get Lyra outside the house and interact with others is largely unsuccessful. (Perhaps her mother, Alia, has a different take but she is largely invisible in this book. We don’t know her thoughts about anything including how she and her husband get along on this year of discovery. Maybe she didn’t give the author permission to disclose her thoughts). Lyra’s schtick is to not like anything - especially whatever it is the rest of the family likes and wants to do. Lyra is clearly bright. Her snark is funny. Her arguments with her father are well reasoned. She is happy with her introversion. There are several excerpts of her writing in the book - brief reflections on herself and the trip. She is a talented writer. She appears to know herself way beyond her twelve years. I would have liked to hear more from her unfiltered by the author who mostly talks about their arguing. For instance, how did Lyra like going to school in the Netherlands where, not knowing the language, she mostly slept or read? Did she and her classmates share any growing-up insights and observations - most Dutch people apparently speak rudimentary to very good English? Instead, all we got was her father’s second-hand opinions. I mentioned as a travelogue the book comes up short. Why? Every place the family goes, the author interacts almost exclusively with other white middle-class folks like himself. In New Zealand the interactions are at least with local Kiwis - English is the first language of white middle class New Zelanders. Because he doesn’t speak the language, the author relies on the impressions of other expats to understand the Netherlands. These expats are, say it in unison, white middle class people just like the author. Same in Costa Rica. The author has almost no interaction with Ticos but a lot with the expat community. There is a hint that Alia might speak some Spanish so I’m hoping they could order food in local dives - in the unlikely event they went to any. Finally, the family alights in Hays, Kansas, a geographically isolated town of about 20,000. 89% white; 70% Trump supporters - the author perceives himself as being perceived as part of the ‘east coast elite’ and is stridently anti-Trump. There is no language barrier. Surely they get to know the locals in this immersive travel adventure. Well, no. The main fountain of progressive thought is apparently the faculty at Fort Hayes State University. The author interviews and relies upon many faculty members to get an impression of Hayes. To a person, they are white and middle class ‘expats’ - not from Hayes, culturally similar to the author and eager to get ‘the hell out of Dodge’ as soon as they can get a job elsewhere. (Confession: I have a relative and his wife who were for several years faculty members at FHSU but have since found jobs elsewhere. They are both briefly quoted in the book but did not really know the author. I was unaware of this connection when I started the book). ‘How To Be A Family’ is sometimes engaging. The author is sometimes funny. Usually in a self-deprecating or ‘family-deprecating’ way. The family does not do many interesting things while away. Their interactions appear to be similar to those they had while white suburban prisoners. Not a ton of warm family moments. The wife is largely unheard from and we are not privy to her thoughts. The effect on the children of their year away is not greatly discussed and certainly not directly from their mouths. The observations of other cultures is largely second hand, delivered (bizarrely?) from expats. It has to be an unreliable narrative when you rely on the thoughts of others who barely experience the local culture themselves. How would it affect a family to have these experiences? What are these places really like? That’s what I was looking for. I still don’t know

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    When Dan Kois, a host of Slate's Mom and Dad are Fighting, announced he was leaving the show to travel the world with his family for a year and write a book about the experience - a book that wouldn't be in my hands for three whole years - I was sad. THREE YEARS! Three years of waiting for a book I wanted rightnow. Well, three years is up, and I'm so thrilled with this book baby it's like I wrote it myself. If you loved Tsh Oxenrider's At Home in the World, consider this it's a little bit c When Dan Kois, a host of Slate's Mom and Dad are Fighting, announced he was leaving the show to travel the world with his family for a year and write a book about the experience - a book that wouldn't be in my hands for three whole years - I was sad. THREE YEARS! Three years of waiting for a book I wanted rightnow. Well, three years is up, and I'm so thrilled with this book baby it's like I wrote it myself. If you loved Tsh Oxenrider's At Home in the World, consider this it's a little bit coarser*, more politically liberal**, slightly more negative cousin. I adored Tsh's book and recommend it to everyone I know. It was aspirational. *I* want to take my kids on a trip like that, it made you think. She mentioned hard times, of course, but, you thought, if I were Tsh I could handle them. Dan's book is more "but for the grace of God, go I." Moving his kids around the world went exactly how you'd think it would go. Aka...difficultly. An amazing experience, one you kind of wish you'd had, but also one you're not entirely sad to have missed. It's not all downer. The Smith-Koises are glad they went! They learned a lot and will never forget it. I'm quite excited to be reading about it instead of participating, though. And bonus - there's a whole podcast episode of Dan reading the beginning on the audiobook, then a Q & A, that you can listen to for free before buying. *Swearing not redacted! **By politically liberal, I don't just mean "vaguely crunchy and the kind of people you'd expect to move with their kids abroad." It's more "the kind of people who introduce themselves as Americans with a 'sorry about Trump!' and refer to themselves, sort of tongue in cheek but also honestly, as liberal coastal elites. Most of the book isn't about that, but it's just pervasive enough you might want to skip it if it's going to frustrate you.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Stein

    3.5 stars. This book presents a reality that I have dreamed of. A year living in different countries, getting a taste for life in another part of the world. The destinations chosen by the family were interesting - New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Kansas. In all, I enjoyed the narrative and hearing the author's experiences and thoughts, particularly the Kansas and NZ sections. The Costa Rica section was by far the low point for me, both on story and on introspection, but I suspect it 3.5 stars. This book presents a reality that I have dreamed of. A year living in different countries, getting a taste for life in another part of the world. The destinations chosen by the family were interesting - New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Kansas. In all, I enjoyed the narrative and hearing the author's experiences and thoughts, particularly the Kansas and NZ sections. The Costa Rica section was by far the low point for me, both on story and on introspection, but I suspect it was the low part of the year for the family, too. My favorite aspect was the emphasis on how, in the end, friends and community were the most important elements to a happy family life. I definitely would have liked to read more about how the experience changed the way the author thought and the family worked, and most importantly how it impacted their life after the trip. Maybe I was reading too quickly by the end of the book, and the author did highlight some individual actions he was taking, but I didn't get a sense that his family was really operating that differently from the high-octane life in Northern VA that he describes in the first chapter before they leave on their trip. Last, my biggest pet peeve was that there was just too much focus on the older daughter's incessant desire for screen time with little effort or experimenting or discussion about how the family was trying to cope with or address that behavior. I'm sure that was their reality but it didn't make me sympathetic to the author or the daughter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Andonian

    I really liked the book, and learning about the different places that Dan and his family visited. I wish I learned more about how his relationship with his wife changed as a result of the trip. I felt Dan was censoring this part of his life...and that's okay. I also felt a little co-dependent for his girls, because it seemed like he was more charitable with his youngest and a little more critical with his oldest. I get that...I have two daughters, too, and sometimes we're blind to such things, e I really liked the book, and learning about the different places that Dan and his family visited. I wish I learned more about how his relationship with his wife changed as a result of the trip. I felt Dan was censoring this part of his life...and that's okay. I also felt a little co-dependent for his girls, because it seemed like he was more charitable with his youngest and a little more critical with his oldest. I get that...I have two daughters, too, and sometimes we're blind to such things, especially when they're on opposite ends of the personality spectrum. (Or, in my case, a 3 and a 6 on the Enneagram, respectively.) Still, I know Dan loves his family more than anything; otherwise, he wouldn't have embarked on such an ambitious journey in the first place. I had to knock a star off for the excessive use of the word INDEED. It shows up everywhere. And by the third time, I started to really get annoyed. I'd say at least 10 INDEEDs should've been struck dead with a red pen. Sorry, Dan. It didn't serve the read - instead, it pulled me out of the narrative. Overall, very happy I was able to live vicariously through this family's 12-month lens, and am looking forward to reading more from Dan (and especially Lyra) in the years to come.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Olga Mecking

    Usually, books about parenting abroad start with the writer moving to a new country (be it for their spouse's job, or just to get a better work-life-balance), noticing how locals did it better, and then decided to share that wisdom with the world. This book is not like that. Not only did it include four countries instead of one, but it also acknowledged that not all parenting philosophies can be implanted someplace else. Moreover, it also admitted that locals might seem to have it all figured ou Usually, books about parenting abroad start with the writer moving to a new country (be it for their spouse's job, or just to get a better work-life-balance), noticing how locals did it better, and then decided to share that wisdom with the world. This book is not like that. Not only did it include four countries instead of one, but it also acknowledged that not all parenting philosophies can be implanted someplace else. Moreover, it also admitted that locals might seem to have it all figured out not because they're superior parents by nature but simply because of the way society is structured and supports parents. I really felt this honesty was refreshing and real. "Well, we went there, we liked some parts of it but not everything," it seemed to say. Oh and the treatise on whining should be required reading for every parent. No, actually, make it required reading for everyone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily Obrien

    I’m a big fan of Dan’s podcast “Mom and Dad are Fighting”, I have kids the same age as his, and I have lived abroad with my family, so I was all set to love this book. And guess what? I really, really loved this book. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. Entertaining, funny, insightful- a wonderful travelogue, and an honest portrait of a family. It provides great anthropological, political, and sociological insight, too. Dan Kois is a keen observer and deep thinker and also v I’m a big fan of Dan’s podcast “Mom and Dad are Fighting”, I have kids the same age as his, and I have lived abroad with my family, so I was all set to love this book. And guess what? I really, really loved this book. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. Entertaining, funny, insightful- a wonderful travelogue, and an honest portrait of a family. It provides great anthropological, political, and sociological insight, too. Dan Kois is a keen observer and deep thinker and also very honest about the difficulties of parenting. He does not shy from revealing his own insecurities and failings in life, either. The Hayes Kansas section is a beautifully written and timely American story. It’s a great book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christa

    Family Travel Lit Authenticity Reward! Loved this. Couldn’t stop reading it. Have been a long time listener of “Mom and Dad are Fighting” and loved traveling with Dan and his family... My family did our own 2017/2018 sabbatical year in Guatemala, Argentina, South Africa, and Spain and we had a similar experience...wherever you go, you take your head - and your family - with you. It was our life for a year and we loved most parts, disliked others, but it will forever be part of our story. I just Family Travel Lit Authenticity Reward! Loved this. Couldn’t stop reading it. Have been a long time listener of “Mom and Dad are Fighting” and loved traveling with Dan and his family... My family did our own 2017/2018 sabbatical year in Guatemala, Argentina, South Africa, and Spain and we had a similar experience...wherever you go, you take your head - and your family - with you. It was our life for a year and we loved most parts, disliked others, but it will forever be part of our story. I just wish I had Dan’s talent and had written a book about it. Thanks for sharing your year with us - what a joy it was to come along with you!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    As an American raising my kids overseas, I was excited to read (well, in this case listen to) this book after I heard the author on the Atomic Moms podcast. Parts of it were entertaining and insightful, but other sections reflected the author's (admitted) impatience with his family and surroundings and those were harder to get through. It seems like they all grew and adapted through the experience, and I'm sure some of the effects won't really be noticed until the girls are much older and they c As an American raising my kids overseas, I was excited to read (well, in this case listen to) this book after I heard the author on the Atomic Moms podcast. Parts of it were entertaining and insightful, but other sections reflected the author's (admitted) impatience with his family and surroundings and those were harder to get through. It seems like they all grew and adapted through the experience, and I'm sure some of the effects won't really be noticed until the girls are much older and they can all reflect on it with some distance.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    3.5 stars but rounding up just because. I felt like after the New Zealand and the Netherlands sections, the book felt rushed. Costa Rica didn’t have much of a character here. But I came away with an admiration for what Dan and Alia did and a desire to do something similar some day. Or to emigrate to New Zealand right away. Also did away with my desire to retire early in Costa Rica after an amazing trip there a couple years ago.. mosquitoes!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jacinta Carter

    I'm always up for a good travel memoir, a book about family drama, and non-fiction about cultures I'm unfamiliar with. Lucky for me, this book rolls all of those things into one. I was, of course, partial toward the Hays section because I know many of the people Kois wrote about, but the chapters about New Zealand were my absolute favorite. I don't know if it was Kois's intention to make his readers want to immediately move to New Zealand, but he definitely has me considering it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Despite my serious envy of the parents who packed up their suburban DC life and took their daughters on a round-the-world trip for a year, and despite the audacious privilege inherent in this trip (the most "challenging" place they stayed was...Costa Rica??), this book is sharp and hilarious. And the observations about the existential doubts faced by privileged suburban DC parents sure felt on the nose.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan Flieder

    Loved this book! My kids are 12 and 13 now, and I've always fantasized about doing this . . . but happy I got to read about it first so now we don't have to do it. I loved the author (and his kids' and wife's) honesty, and loved hearing their takes on the places that they lived. It also made me feel like my kids are normal to be obsessed with screen time and to hate hiking unless friends are along. It was a great little adventure, that didn't cost me anything - thanks!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susie | Novel Visits

    My Thoughts: I love to travel and thought How to Be A Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together by Dan Kois would be perfect for me. That’s a HUGE title and it says a lot. I really liked the parts of this memoir that focused on the author and his family: how they traveled together, compromised, fought, etc. I enjoyed his exploration of parenting attitudes in New Zealand and Holland, and how they were able to live so differently in those countries. Howev My Thoughts: I love to travel and thought How to Be A Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together by Dan Kois would be perfect for me. That’s a HUGE title and it says a lot. I really liked the parts of this memoir that focused on the author and his family: how they traveled together, compromised, fought, etc. I enjoyed his exploration of parenting attitudes in New Zealand and Holland, and how they were able to live so differently in those countries. However, Kois included long chunks in his book that had to do with more cultural aspects of the various countries and these parts really dragged for me, especially in Costa Rica and Kansas. I’d have liked more about his changing family dynamics and less of the research. This one was more of a miss for me. Original Source: https://novelvisits.com/

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I am a big fan of Dan and of MADAF. I really like his writing style; the tone is perfect for MADAF listeners. I acknowledge my privilege and his when I say that I completely relate to why he traveled with his family for a year. He saved me a lot of money and planning by writing this book. Essentially his message is this, "no matter where you go, there you are."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Kilen

    Interesting....especially hearing about the different communities. I really liked Lyra and Harper's writing throughout the book- would have liked more of that and Alia. Disappointed in the language! Why not leave out the F-bomb and taking God's name in vain? It doesn't add anything and can offend.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gin Battista

    Enjoyed reading about your family's adventures to the different countries during 2017. Thanks for allowing us to experience how other countries differ from ours. Thanks, Goodreads, for choosing me as a winner of this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris Grover

    My favourite parts were when Kois focused on his family dynamics and recounted bits of experiences they had. The book doubles as an ethnography about being a parent in other cultures around the world; perhaps that's his main goal. Overall a very fun, warm read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Real Simple rec. I might roll my eyes the entire time... but I might love it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Pulignani

    Really enjoyed this adventure.

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