Real Boys' Voices

In his groundbreaking bestseller, Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, Dr. William Pollack delved into the issues that today's boys face, from violence to the limiting notion that boys don't cry. In his follow-up book, Real Boys' Voices, Pollack, a clinical psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, lets readers get close to his source--the boys themselves, ages 10 to 20, from all around the country. The voices he presents are searingly authentic and eager to be heard. Pollack's basic premise is simple: Despite what society might tell us, boys want to talk. Furthermore, they have a lot to say on a wide variety of topics, including gender issues, friendship, sex, fear of violence, and relationships with their mothers and fathers. The first and longest section of the book, "The Secret Emotional Lives of Boys," is the most powerful. Boys talk about homophobia--their secret terror that they might be called gay--and of the double life many say they lead: strong and brave on the outside, yet full of worries and angst on the inside. With violence all around them, many boys fear becoming violent themselves. They also describe the intense pressure they feel to lose their virginity and the conflicting feelings they have about sex. "Your virginity is what determines whether you're a man or a boy in the eyes of every teenage male," muses one thoughtful boy, who adds, "It is almost inconceivable to think that your virginity, your one and only innocence, could be your worst enemy." Throughout his book, Pollack offers helpful and concrete suggestions for parents to help their boys lead better lives, including tips on how to deal with bullying behavior and how to recognize signs of depression. While this advice is useful, the true power of this book lies in those very real voices. This is a must-read for parents and for anyone who wants insight into the minds of today's boys. --Virginia Smyth