Parents Behaving Badly
When Ben and Jili Holden must move from Manhattan with their three children back to their small hometown of Palace Valley, California, they are forced to reconcile the parents they’ve become with the dreams they had, the choices they’ve made, and a sex life much more down-to-earth than the epic Ferris wheel tryst of their youth. After reluctantly stepping up to lead his son’s Little League team, Ben is challenged to finally come to terms with the long shadow of his father, a legendary high school baseball coach and mentor who is beloved by generations of players, yet largely a stranger to Ben.
At the heart of the story are the universal experiences and themes of family and community, as Ben and Jili struggle to connect with their technology-addicted children and grapple with issues of marital fidelity—both at home and in the hotbed of sexual tension that is the Little League park. Among an unforgettable cast are Del, an autocratic coach who issues his own Ten Commandments; Liza, Ben’s unrequited high school crush; Logan, a smart-aleck ringer whose preteen talents are eclipsed only by his ego; and Cyn, the sultry thong-wearing team mom with the serpent tattoo. Every mother and father of every boy and girl who have ever participated in youth sports can relate, and in Parents Behaving Badly Scott Gummer brilliantly skewers overzealous parents and lunatic coaches, giving the grown-ups who seek vicarious glory the send-up they so richly deserve.
When Parents Behave Badly
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Reading Group Guide
When Ben Holden and his family move from New York City back to his hometown in rural California, he reenters a world of his former classmates, aging parents, quirky siblings, and the agony and ecstasy of Little League baseball, where the parents are often more intense and into the game than the kids. The first novel by journalist and author Scott Gummer, Parents Behaving Badly is a satirical, often hilarious portrait of suburban life and modern parenting. Gummer expertly weaves together provocative and timely storylines, ultimately illuminating what it means to be a true leader, be it in the form of a role model, coach, or parent.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
- Early in the story Ben and his aging father, Coach, share a tender and, for Ben, curious moment when his father gently pats Ben’s hand. (p. 18) How does this brief moment, and Ben’s reaction to it, shed light on his relationship with his father?
- As a high school freshman Ben made the bold cho