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Parents Behaving Badly

Parents Behaving Badly

4.5 7
by Scott Gummer

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An uproarious, surprising, and poignant satire of American suburbia and youth sports gone wild

When Ben and Jili Holden must move from Manhattan with their three children back to their small hometown of Palace Valley, California, they are forced to reconcile the parents they’ve become with the dreams they had, the choices they’ve made, and a


An uproarious, surprising, and poignant satire of American suburbia and youth sports gone wild

When Ben and Jili Holden must move from Manhattan with their three children back to their small hometown of Palace Valley, California, they are forced to reconcile the parents they’ve become with the dreams they had, the choices they’ve made, and a sex life much more down-to-earth than the epic Ferris wheel tryst of their youth. After reluctantly stepping up to lead his son’s Little League team, Ben is challenged to finally come to terms with the long shadow of his father, a legendary high school baseball coach and mentor who is beloved by generations of players, yet largely a stranger to Ben.

At the heart of the story are the universal experiences and themes of family and community, as Ben and Jili struggle to connect with their technology-addicted children and grapple with issues of marital fidelity—both at home and in the hotbed of sexual tension that is the Little League park. Among an unforgettable cast are Del, an autocratic coach who issues his own Ten Commandments; Liza, Ben’s unrequited high school crush; Logan, a smart-aleck ringer whose preteen talents are eclipsed only by his ego; and Cyn, the sultry thong-wearing team mom with the serpent tattoo. Every mother and father of every boy and girl who have ever participated in youth sports can relate, and in Parents Behaving Badly Scott Gummer brilliantly skewers overzealous parents and lunatic coaches, giving the grown-ups who seek vicarious glory the send-up they so richly deserve.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Gummer's humorous if subdued debut, a suburban Little League serves as the nexus for thwarted ambitions, competitive intrigues, marital rifts, and, as an afterthought, kids who might be interested in baseball. Ben Holden, recently returned to his California hometown from New York, becomes a reluctant coach, grappling with his late father's legacy as a revered high school athletic mentor and the ambivalence that comes with middle-aged parenting and a mature, mostly stable marriage. He's appealing and accessible, as are many of Gummer's cast of family members, friends and neighbors. There's the deftly rendered list of things Ben's sister prizes: "their McMansion in the tony, new and also curiously named CascadeForest development of Sacramento, her Lexus hybrid and his Prius, their Pottery Barn furnishings, her Tory Burch Shoes and matching handbags." But too often, these descriptions substitute for character development and depth, and while the slew of subplots—the most dramatic of which involves low-grade sexual tension between Ben and a sexy ultrasound technician—are entertaining, they can't mask the fact that the novel fails to really deliver on the promise of its title. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Parents Behaving Badly isn't just a sharp satire about Little League madness; it's also a shrewd and sympathetic portrait of a mid-life marriage. Scott Gummer writes with equal insight about wayward spouses and conniving coaches.”—Tom Perrotta

"Parents Behaving Badly is the perfect melding of the modern American bloodsports of Little League and wedlock: harrowing and warm-hearted.”—Larry Doyle, author of I Love You, Beth Cooper and Go Mutants

“Scott Gummer does a great job of reminding us why kids play sports, why parents coach and, with tongue in cheek, what happens when parents forget that sports are supposed to be fun. With a great deal of humor he never loses sight of the life lessons baseball teaches kids and parents alike. Parents Behaving Badly is a thoroughly entertaining story of a youth baseball season that should be a must read.”
—Cal Ripken, Jr., member, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Chairman and CEO Ripken Baseball

"Parents Behaving Badly is a devastatingly accurate—and laugh out loud funny—look at the culture of contemporary youth sports, the boys and girls who just want to have fun, and the parents who do more harm than good despite their best intentions."
—Hannah Storm, ESPN Anchor & Journalist

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Meet the Author

Scott Gummer is the author of two books, The Seventh at St. Andrews and Homer Kelley's Golfing Machine, and has contributed to over forty magazines including Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Travel + Leisure and more. He lives with his wife and four children in the Sonoma wine country, where he has coached youth sports at every level from peewee boys to high school varsity girls, and where he serves on the little league Board of Directors.

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Parents Behaving Badly 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
Parents Behaving Badly, by Scott Gummer, is a fun read. Several scenes are hilarious, but the sweet, tender side to this story makes it most memorable. Ben and Jili move back to their hometown, where many broken and unfulfilled dreams are buried. As they adjust to their once familiar surroundings, they learn to deal with the ghosts of their pasts. Old flames flicker, secrets are revealed, and unspoken questions receive answers. To be honest, I feel the beginning of the story is a little slow and confusing-too many characters to follow and not enough background to feel grounded in the story. That quickly changes when the characters burst to life and the storyline becomes infused with humor. That's not to say the entire story is fun and games. It also touches on the frustrations, insecurities, temptations and questions that Ben and Jili's marriage faces. The author does a great job of projecting imagery through his words. Although the physical descriptions of the characters (with an exception here and there) are not as crisp as I would have liked, the scenes are vivid, lively and full of color. I'm not a baseball fan, so many of the coaching references, plays, and strategies go over my head; but my lack of knowledge does little to thwart my enjoyment of the story and its satirical undertone. There are two basic storylines: Ben's relationships with his family and friends, and the mad goings-on of little league baseball. The tales meld together nicely; glued together by pain, frustration, fear and laughter. As a parent, even though my children did not participate in team sports in school, I can relate to a large part of this story. The small town of Palace Valley contains residents with big problems. There are several characters I swear live down the street from me ... the middle-aged Barbie wannabe, the obsessed and obnoxious little league coach, the gorgeous temptress who wants nothing more than to steal someone else's man, and the insufferable know-it-all. Let's not forget the children caught in the middle of the madness, forced to live the dreams of their parents. *I received this book as an early release. It did not influence my review or rating.
Matt_Middlebrook More than 1 year ago
As someone who both played Little League as a kid and now watch my son play it I found myself in this book in a dozen different places both as the kid and the parent. There has not been a book I've read in a long time that touched me as much as this one because I saw myself in it over and over. Scott Gummer does a magical job of relating every day life and experiences in a way that is touching and real in a way where most other novels fail. At the same time, the book is infused with a wicked sense of humor that made me laugh out loud in many places. While parents and former Little Leaguers will relate to incidents on nearly every page, you don't need to be either to enjoy this book because it's also a tale of every day incidents with which we can all relate, and it's very accessible and very, very funny. You'd never know it was a first novel because Scott has found a strong comic voice that jumps off the page. And if you love writers like Jonathan Tropper you'll love Scott Gummer. Great read, highly recommend it!...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books was filled with fantastic humor and touched so close to home with the antics that I have found not only on our own local baseball field but attaches itself to my 8 year old youth hockey organization as well... Step back Dad (That includes me too) and let these kids have fun...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My two children had been though the local soccer program and I was anxious to see if any of the bad behaving parents from the book seemed familiar. While our soccer program had the occasional parent/coach who put his child above others or the parents who used the program for a babysitter, that now seems tame compared to this story. This is the story of Ben and his wife Jili. They were living the good life in New York until they moved back to California to be near their aging parents. After the death of his father "Coach", Ben and Jili's two sons wanted to sign up for the local baseball program. Suddenly Ben, who was a little introverted, found himself pulled into a cast of characters he would have rather stayed away from. There was the over zealous coach who bent the rules in his favor, put his own child's well-being on the line to win games, and who was responsible for the local "promgate". There was the local MILF, who shamelessly flirted with Ben and wouldn't share her cevichi recipe as promised. There was the boy who's mother married his father's father and who's father married his mother's twin sister, making his grandfather his step-father and his aunt his step-mother. This book is about how Ben and Jili navigate their way through all these crazy people and keep their own lives intact. This was a great book, except for one little thing - I don't know much about baseball. Every so often I had to go to my husband to explain a baseball term for me. If he wasn't around I could have easily skimmed over those parts and it wouldn't have affected the story line, but I think my husband enjoyed my sudden sports interest. I think he may even read the book - when baseball season is over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1DMBFAN More than 1 year ago
Definitely a laugh out loud, really hits home book! As you read the book, you start imagining that it's written about people and coaches you know! I would recommend this book to every parent and coach who has every played little league. It really opens your eyes to the big picture; from coaching perspective, player perspective and parent perspective! Loved it!
mlm55 More than 1 year ago
A great read with great insight into that great American tradition, Little League Baseball. Even if you're not a parent and have never played Little League, pick up Parents Behaving Badly: it's funny, perceptive, and on-target about life in suburban America today. The characters ring true--little kids, teens, and parents alike. It's clear that Scott Gummer knows his territory. Play ball!