How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together

How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together Review

In this "refreshingly relatable" (Outside) memoir, Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his family on a journey around the world to change their lives together.



What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be a family?

Dan Kois and his wife always did their best for their kids. Busy professionals living in the D.C. suburbs, they scheduled their children's time wisely, and when they weren't arguing over screen time, the Kois family-Dan, his wife Alia, and their two pre-teen daughters-could each be found searching for their own happiness. But aren't families supposed to achieve happiness together?

In this eye-opening, heartwarming, and very funny family memoir, the fractious, loving Kois' go in search of other places on the map that might offer them the chance to live away from home-but closer together. Over a year the family lands in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and small-town Kansas. The goal? To get out of their rut of busyness and distractedness and to see how other families live outside the East Coast parenting bubble.

HOW TO BE A FAMILY brings readers along as the Kois girls-witty, solitary, extremely online Lyra and goofy, sensitive, social butterfly Harper-like through the Kiwi bush, ride bikes to a Dutch school in the pouring rain, battle iguanas in their Costa Rican kitchen, and learn to love a town where everyone knows your name. Meanwhile, Dan interviews neighbors, public officials, and scholars to learn why each of these places work the way they do. Will this trip change the Kois family's lives? Or do families take their problems and conflicts with them wherever we go?

A journalistic memoir filled with heart, empathy, and lots of whining, HOW TO BE A FAMILY will make readers dream about the amazing adventures their own families might take.

Title:How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together

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    How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together Reviews

  • Jeanette

    I probably should have quit this book 1/2 way through. But I didn't. I wanted to get to Kansas- that's why. Honestly I don't think I have ever read a memoir or travelogue of such wordiness verbosity s...

  • Katie

    I really enjoyed this book, and clearly am the exact right demographic to appreciate it--we're about 8 years behind Kois's family, but we too are an editor and an attorney who moved to the DC suburbs ...

  • Marissa St.Marseille

    BUYER BEWARE!The title is deceiving! I was only 11% into the book, when I realized this was more about the author's political agenda. It's just more Trump bashing and US shaming. If you don't get enou...

  • Tish

    I like the premise.....But I see no way to truly integrate into communities and learn from their different parenting styles in 12 weeks.I guess I should be talking to my neighbors who moved to Scotlan...

  • Julie

    Fair warning: I'm a big fan of Dan's from the podcast, Mom and Dad Are Fighting. I find him immensely relatable, funny and frankly, I just want to have a beer with him and vent about parenting. This b...

  • Katelyn

    Dan Kois and his wife Alia Smith realized their lives in Arlington, VA were overworked and over stressed. Both worked long hours, their kids attended a high achieving/high pressure school and they bat...

  • Laura Dye

    Had no intention of reading, much less buying, this book until I heard the author read a chapter aloud on one of my favorite podcasts. (Mom and dad are fighting) The existential crisises he spoke abou...

  • Tatiana

    Dan is so much fun as a podcaster, but as a parenting writer - yawn....

  • Joe Oser

    ‘How To Be A Family’ is the story of a middle class professional (the author) and his wife Alia (less about her later) also a middle class professional, who tire of the white middle class professi...

  • Michelle

    This was fascinating. Typical upper middle class two-professional family decides to try to become closer as a family and find new life balance. So they lived for three months each in New Zealand, the ...