Best-selling author Po Bronson discusses the miracle of ordinary life in his latest book, "Why Do I Love These People?"

January 3rd, 2006

New York Post
January 1, 2006

WHAT better time than the holidays to release a nonfiction book about the very specific angst of dealing with one's family? In “Why Do I Love These People?” (Random House, $24.95) author
Po Bronson profiles 20 families that have struggled with the kind of messy, if common, problems (infidelity, addiction, divorce, teen pregnancy) that leave each member feeling uniquely scarred.

Though Bronson – author of the Oprah-anointed “What Should I Do With My Life?” – suffers from damp-eyed earnestness, his book offers fascinating insights into the current state of the American family. His most shocking observation: Today's nuclear families are just as stable, if not more so, than generations past.

What preconceptions did you have about the state of families?

That so many of us feel broken, and that that is new. I'm 41, and I thought of myself as raised in that first boom of divorces.

And you found that broken homes are hardly a new trend.

Broken families have been around forever. I met so many people who'd say, “I'm scared to have a family! The divorce rates are so high!” And I'd say, “Don't you know that 100 years ago, a kid had the same chance of having divorced parents?” There's a sense that it's all broken now. It's making people scared.

Why does your generation feels so victimized by divorce?

It probably comes down to solipsism and myopia. But the organizations that put out that information that depict the family [as endangered] – it's often political. The people on the right argue that since the government got involved, the family has been falling apart. On the left, the argument is that the need for government is even greater – we need more money. So our generation is bombarded with this message.

You were estranged from your family for some time.

When I started this book, I turned a corner with my family. I feel I can appreciate what they did for me more than before. My parents fought for 20 years, and it caused a lot of problems. I got married again and had a young son. I was very afraid about [finances] and of hurting people. It was about getting over that by realizing that one can't control things.

What do you want readers to take away?

I hope we can get some perspective and a sense of what other generations had to go through. We're not more damaged than anyone else. We should really break that solipsism.

New York Post