Today is the official release date for Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge, a book by NBA veteran Etan Thomas that features a collection of essays and poetry from prominent men from all walks of life. Thomas collaborated with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Chiles to produce the book that features essays from dozens of recognizable names, such as actor Taye Diggs, journalist Roland Martin, filmmaker Michael Moore, activist Al Sharpton, NBA star Kevin Durant and rapper/filmmaker Ice Cube.
“It’s a book that has something for everyone,” Thomas said in an interview with AtlantaBlackStar.com. “Ice Cube might speak to one person and Tony Hawk speaks to a different person. That’s why I wanted to have such a wide variety of men in the book.”
With a foreword by Tony Dungy and a conclusion by Cornel West, this book tackles the subject of fatherhood in a way that feels unusual. Rather than being condemnatory, it is presented as a conversation on a printed page. Unlike most anthologies, each essay isn’t standing along in its own chapter or section. The pieces are woven throughout the chapters as Thomas gives his thoughts about a particular subject regarding fatherhood. It makes the book more relatable and less like a textbook, which is common with collections like this one.
Self-help books aren’t generally directed towards men and Thomas is clearly seeking to change that with Fatherhood. “Just like an entire generation of woman and men run to the book ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ when they get that exciting news of impending parenthood, I want this book to serve as a manual for fathers new and old,” Thomas writes in his introduction.
The book also tackles tough subjects. One section deals with single motherhood and, unlike a lot of people, Thomas doesn’t condemn, he shows understanding—something that could be attributed to growing up with his own single mother. “So much of ‘what’s wrong with America’ has been placed in her lap—as if she asked to be abandoned by the child’s father, as if she grew up dreaming of the day when she would raise a family by herself,” he writes.
This groundbreaking book is poised to be a popular gift item for both young and old men and, hopefully, it will inspire some much-needed dialogue.