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Once More To The Rodeo: A Memoir

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Five years into fatherhood, Calvin Hennick is plagued by self-doubt and full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father figures abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it even mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change fr Five years into fatherhood, Calvin Hennick is plagued by self-doubt and full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father figures abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it even mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change from moment to moment?    In search of answers, Calvin takes his young son on the road, traveling across the country to the annual rodeo in his small Iowa hometown. Along the way, a stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame turns into an impromptu lesson about racism and segregation. In Niagara Falls, a day of arcade games and go-karts unexpectedly morphs into a titanic struggle between father and son. A stop in Chicago rips the scars off of old wounds. And back in Iowa, Calvin is forced to confront the most difficult question of all: What if his flaws and family history doom him to repeat the mistakes of the past?   In this unforgettable debut memoir, Calvin Hennick holds a mirror up to both himself and modern America, in an urgent and timely story that all parents, and indeed all Americans, need to read.


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Five years into fatherhood, Calvin Hennick is plagued by self-doubt and full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father figures abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it even mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change fr Five years into fatherhood, Calvin Hennick is plagued by self-doubt and full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father figures abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it even mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change from moment to moment?    In search of answers, Calvin takes his young son on the road, traveling across the country to the annual rodeo in his small Iowa hometown. Along the way, a stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame turns into an impromptu lesson about racism and segregation. In Niagara Falls, a day of arcade games and go-karts unexpectedly morphs into a titanic struggle between father and son. A stop in Chicago rips the scars off of old wounds. And back in Iowa, Calvin is forced to confront the most difficult question of all: What if his flaws and family history doom him to repeat the mistakes of the past?   In this unforgettable debut memoir, Calvin Hennick holds a mirror up to both himself and modern America, in an urgent and timely story that all parents, and indeed all Americans, need to read.

30 review for Once More To The Rodeo: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Not what I was expecting as there was very little about being black in America but mostly about the writer's shitty childhood. But then all memoirists had awful childhoods.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beth Hunsberger

    I received an advanced copy of this book. In his memoir, Hennick reflects on his own relationship with his father, his relationship with his son, and the differences they experience in society because of their skin color. Calvin and his son take a road trip to the Midwest, and those days in the car are perfect for reflection, exploration, discussion, and having the absolute best time together. This book is emotional and touching, and while it may resonate with men about the type of father they wa I received an advanced copy of this book. In his memoir, Hennick reflects on his own relationship with his father, his relationship with his son, and the differences they experience in society because of their skin color. Calvin and his son take a road trip to the Midwest, and those days in the car are perfect for reflection, exploration, discussion, and having the absolute best time together. This book is emotional and touching, and while it may resonate with men about the type of father they want to be, it is also a great book for everyone to stop and reflect on the legacy they want to leave and instill with the important people in their lives.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion or this review. Can we go back in time to find answers to questions left unanswered or why our parents made the choices they did? Did our parents choices made when we were children affect our future choices? Are our parenting style and reactions imprinted on us by our parents? These questions are the foundation of this book. Once more to the Rodeo is a wonderful journal of self di I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion or this review. Can we go back in time to find answers to questions left unanswered or why our parents made the choices they did? Did our parents choices made when we were children affect our future choices? Are our parenting style and reactions imprinted on us by our parents? These questions are the foundation of this book. Once more to the Rodeo is a wonderful journal of self discovery and diary to preserve or chronicle a road trip taken by father and son. By writing in this manner an intimacy is created that may not have been felt in another format. As a parent it is nice to see the raw honest reflections of every day events in this book. We all have moments we will regret, whether it is because we are frustrated from lack of sleep or embarrassed by how our child is acting... usually in public where it might reflect poorly on us the parent. Because parents are our worst critics it is nice to see others facing the same issues and making similar choices. Although the author finds forgiveness and/or acceptance of his past and the effects on his future, I felt it ended too soon.

  4. 4 out of 5

    May Beasley

    Although I found the writers life interesting and this trip with his son endearing; this book was not what I was expecting to read. The book blurb on the back leads you to believe that their will be quite a bit of about how he goes about helping his son navigate how to be a young black man in America when he is white and can not have a true frame of refrence for that. That being said the story of how he came from such a terrible childhood with a lack of love to loving his children so much and tr Although I found the writers life interesting and this trip with his son endearing; this book was not what I was expecting to read. The book blurb on the back leads you to believe that their will be quite a bit of about how he goes about helping his son navigate how to be a young black man in America when he is white and can not have a true frame of refrence for that. That being said the story of how he came from such a terrible childhood with a lack of love to loving his children so much and trying so hard was lovely. So just 3 stars, would have been more if I didnt feel mislead.

  5. 5 out of 5

    MGF

    This was ok, but absolutely not compelling and all a bit forced. Probably could have covered in a long form essay. Some touching parts, but not enough. Also, I counted a handful of typos which puts me right off.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jill Martinez

    Twice abandoned Calvin wants to be a better man. He and his son take a cross country trip to his Iowa hometown where he discovers his way forward from his broken past.

  7. 4 out of 5

    K

    This was not at all what I was expecting from the synopsis that piqued my interest in this book. I was hoping for more insight on the race relations between father and son, but this turned out to be more about the author’s deep seeded anger toward his father and grandparents. He’s a very angry man. Reading this made me uncomfortable, like being in the middle of a casual conversation with someone where they suddenly start talking about bad memories in their life, and you don’t know what to say, o This was not at all what I was expecting from the synopsis that piqued my interest in this book. I was hoping for more insight on the race relations between father and son, but this turned out to be more about the author’s deep seeded anger toward his father and grandparents. He’s a very angry man. Reading this made me uncomfortable, like being in the middle of a casual conversation with someone where they suddenly start talking about bad memories in their life, and you don’t know what to say, or how to escape.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This book was poignant and at times heartbreaking; other times I laughed out loud. A look inside what the author is internalizing as he parents his own child(ren), as he struggles with the less than ideal parenting from the parental figures in his own life. This book is honest, real, and it makes the reader think about their own perspective, how our upbringing and relationships even today affect who we are and how we relate to others.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Duffy

    A stunning exploration of family, identity and fatherhood by a gifted writer. Beautifully crafted, and at times, laugh out loud funny—this is a book worth savoring.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This was a random pick off of the new release shelf at the library. It was a winner. The book is about how Hennick struggles with his own father's (his family history is very chaotic and muddled, so there is really more than one father...kind of) failures as well as his desire to be a great father to his own young son. Throw in a lot of sad, funny, and endearing personal history and you get a pretty strong picture of a guy being vulnerable, occasionally scared to fail himself, but always trying This was a random pick off of the new release shelf at the library. It was a winner. The book is about how Hennick struggles with his own father's (his family history is very chaotic and muddled, so there is really more than one father...kind of) failures as well as his desire to be a great father to his own young son. Throw in a lot of sad, funny, and endearing personal history and you get a pretty strong picture of a guy being vulnerable, occasionally scared to fail himself, but always trying to be the best dad that he can be, even when he's full of self doubt.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    I found this book very fulfilling to read. Hennick is a talented writer. His sentences hum and provide momentum for the story to keep moving forward -- all you can ask from a writer. His at times brutal honesty may throw off some people, but it's honest, and it's often turned on himself. You will get to know Hennick warts and all as you read this. There is also great beauty in that honesty. His vivid depictions of the state of Iowa were especially evocative. As someone who has intersected at man I found this book very fulfilling to read. Hennick is a talented writer. His sentences hum and provide momentum for the story to keep moving forward -- all you can ask from a writer. His at times brutal honesty may throw off some people, but it's honest, and it's often turned on himself. You will get to know Hennick warts and all as you read this. There is also great beauty in that honesty. His vivid depictions of the state of Iowa were especially evocative. As someone who has intersected at many of the same crossroads that the author touches on in this memoir -- a lack of worthy male role models, a white guy raising multiracial children in a black and white world, a heartland expatriate yearning to understand where I've come from, I was intrigued by the premise of his memoir. I don't know that it resolves any of the questions Hennick has about protecting his child from the corrupted world around him. I think there's more to explore on that particular issue. But Hennick's understanding of the challenges faced by men trying to understand their place in the world as men and as fathers rang true to me. It takes a while to get there, but if you read through to the end, there is a great moment of catharsis. And that's why we read memoirs, to learn from the experiences of others, to learn from their truths and enhance our own. And on that level, Hennick's memoir succeeds.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Calvin Hennick is full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change from moment to moment? Calvin takes his son on the road, traveling across the country to the annual rodeo in his Iowa hometown. Back in Iowa, Calvin is forced to confront the most difficult ques Calvin Hennick is full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change from moment to moment? Calvin takes his son on the road, traveling across the country to the annual rodeo in his Iowa hometown. Back in Iowa, Calvin is forced to confront the most difficult question of all: What if his flaws and family history doom him to repeat the mistakes of the past? A must read for a better understanding of the challenges of a biracial family.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Let me start by saying I know the players in this book once removed. I also basically knew their "story" before I read it, and the only reason I read it was to get a better understanding of the person I know directly. I found this to be a very sad yet hopeful story. It is about a family who suffered neglect and abuse from the paternal side of the family, yet it was very, very complicated. To further complicate the story, it is written by a white man raising a black son in today's world. Anyway, Let me start by saying I know the players in this book once removed. I also basically knew their "story" before I read it, and the only reason I read it was to get a better understanding of the person I know directly. I found this to be a very sad yet hopeful story. It is about a family who suffered neglect and abuse from the paternal side of the family, yet it was very, very complicated. To further complicate the story, it is written by a white man raising a black son in today's world. Anyway, lots to the story, uplifting because the reader knows that the pattern of neglect will end here, and I again was reminded that people are not always who they appear to be.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Arguably one of my favorite books of this year, if not the last couple years. The author takes his 5-year-old son on a journey from Boston to a small town in Iowa (where he grew up), hoping to learn what it means to be a father and ultimately a man. At times it's hilarious, at times it's touching. Hennick reflects on what it means to be a parent, constantly comparing what he's doing with what he has experienced in his own childhood (an absentee father, an emotionally abusive grand mother.) He als Arguably one of my favorite books of this year, if not the last couple years. The author takes his 5-year-old son on a journey from Boston to a small town in Iowa (where he grew up), hoping to learn what it means to be a father and ultimately a man. At times it's hilarious, at times it's touching. Hennick reflects on what it means to be a parent, constantly comparing what he's doing with what he has experienced in his own childhood (an absentee father, an emotionally abusive grand mother.) He also openly talks about his struggles with alcohol as well as his fears to raise a biracial son, being himself a white man. I can't recommend this book enough

  15. 5 out of 5

    Linnet

    This is a memoir of the trip Hennick took with his five-year old son. He meant it to be a time for them to spend, just the two of them. It didn't take long to see that it was the trip he would have liked to have taken with his own father when he was a child. His description made me uncomfortable: too much emphasis on what HE wanted to do, and not enough opportunity for his son to explore the places they visited to match his own interests. By the end of the trip, Hennick begins to understand his This is a memoir of the trip Hennick took with his five-year old son. He meant it to be a time for them to spend, just the two of them. It didn't take long to see that it was the trip he would have liked to have taken with his own father when he was a child. His description made me uncomfortable: too much emphasis on what HE wanted to do, and not enough opportunity for his son to explore the places they visited to match his own interests. By the end of the trip, Hennick begins to understand his reasons for initiating the return to his boyhood home with his young son.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Hennick, a white man from Maxwell, Iowa is married to the daughter of Haitian immigrants. This memoir uses the structure of a 10-day road trip from Boston to Maxwell with his 5-year-old son Nile to explore both his anxiety about raising a black son in America and his anger towards the two men who abandoned him – his father and grandfather. Fast-paced, introspective, and funny, this book reveals much about the complexity of families in today’s America.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    "Five years into fatherhood, Calvin Hennick is plagued by self-doubt and questions. As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it even mean to be a man today? In this memoir Calvin takes his son on a road trip, traveling from Boston across the country to his hometown in Iowa, seeking answers."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary Kennedy

    This is a really sweet book. I think he does a nice job describing the indescribable thing that is family and how we try to make sense of it, especially when we are making our own with children. I really liked how he developed the characters slowly and his complicated feelings for Alice as he drives away is spot on with how complex relationships can be.

  19. 5 out of 5

    IquoImoh Terry

    Great book about coming to the realizations that you don’t have to be perfect to raise your child and just because your father was absent does not mean you have to be absent. Once more to the Rodeo was a warm and heartfelt book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deb M.

    I hate to give only one star but I felt the description of this book was written to take advantage of the strife in our country surrounding race. The author seems to be a good writer the book just went nowhere for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Smart and thoughtful.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    3.5 Stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Gonsalves

    Interesting, but not what I thought it was going to be about. And who wouldn't love sweet Nile.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Esta Montano

    I liked a lot of things about this book but sometimes it dragged and also sometimes the descriptions of Iowa were hard to get through. I did appreciate the thread of fathers and sons.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brice Loonan

    Great story. Calvin did an amazing job with this heartfelt book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Love the book concept and looked forward to reading about the journey, which wasn't as interesting as I had hoped.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Really good insight into dealing with feelings due to someone hurting you deeply.

  28. 5 out of 5

    D'anna

    Great storytelling. I would love to see this made into a movie.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A good glimpse at parenting and what that means with a mixed raced child and/or a shitty family. Very timely to read at the moment.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I really enjoyed this story, especially since I am familiar with Iowa but the typos! So many typos that it was really distracting!

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