The world of adults seems to have lost its damn mind just in time for the release of my debut YA novel How to Be Manly. In a strange coincidence, much of the chaos seems to be centered around a mass confusion about what being manly actually means.
Being manly is not about hitting women. But you also aren’t manly if you make billions of dollars off of football without giving a fig about the players or their families until a video released to the public makes you give a fig.
My main character Matty has the support of strong and responsible women who insist that he adhere to the best of himself. He learns how to stick up for himself in relationships. He learns that he deserves respect, not just from others but from himself as well. He gets some of his best ideas from a self-help book that he finds at a garage sale that has such a corny title he is ashamed to read it in public. The title is (surprise!) How to Be Manly.
I brushed sugar off my hands and tried to find some science fiction. Then a title of one of the football books made me stop and pick it up. It was called How To Be Manly.
I looked around real fast to make sure that nobody saw me pick up a book called How To Be Manly.
The title is embarrassing. How to Be Manly? Boys are just supposed to know how to be men. They are supposed to look at their fathers and grandfathers and friends and heroes for examples and just know. But what if a boy’s father is a selfish narcissist, and his friends don’t know anything better than he does?
At least my made-up boy was able to look to football for a hero to inspire him to be a good man. I wish my real life students could say the same.