The most gratifying experience of my life is definitely being a parent, not being a writer. So naturally I had to write a book about it! But first, lacking any background whatsoever in psychology, I had a lot of research to do. I became a fellow at the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University, took the extraordinary human development course taught by the late Donald Cohen, who was then director of the Yale Child Study Center, did endless reading on my own, and interviewed dozens of parents and professionals (most of them parents themselves).
Soon after my mother’s death I set out to express the enormity of my loss in a “Hers” column for The New York Times and ended up focusing far more on all that she had given me and my father and sister, all that she had been to us. I was single at the time and by the end of the column had concluded that “I live alone because I will never settle for anything less than what (my father) and mother had.”
This book, which resulted from that column, tells the story of my father’s struggles to survive after he found himself suddenly alone in the world after 37 years of marriage to a woman he adored. But I also tried to evoke the magic of that marriage, something I longed to experience in my own life and never had and feared I never would.
Until shortly after the book was published when I met once again under very different circumstances the rabbi who had officiated at my mother’s funeral (as described, of course, in the book). We have now been married for 23 years!
As a New York Magazine Passionate Shopper whose most daring journalistic venture had been a behind-the-scenes look at “Consumer Reports” for Esquire, I was somewhat unprepared to immerse myself in the street life of Brooklyn (a.k.a. Lovejoy), Illinois, the oldest all black incorporated town in America, in order to find out what was really behind the shootout that occasioned a Time Magazine story called “High Noon After Nightfall”.
So a lot of people have asked why I didn’t put the story of how I got the story into the book. I can only say — it never occurred to me because my only goal was to give Bollinger, the Dancer, Othia, Mr. G, Reno, Vernon, Marva, and all the others a chance to be heard.
“Schoen’s book is wonderful because it shows that what many call the limiting times of bringing up children can, in fact, be liberating.”
Kevin McKinnon in City Parent, Oakville, Ontario