“Every father of a special needs child should read” this memoir by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Friday Night Lights (Temple Grandin).
Buzz Bissinger’s twins were born just three minutes apart, yet life couldn’t have dealt them more different hands. Now grown, Gerry is a graduate student at Penn, preparing to become a teacher. His twin brother, Zach, has spent his life attending special schools. He’ll never drive a car, or kiss a girl, or live by himself. He is a savant, challenged by serious intellectual deficits but also blessed with rare talents: an astonishing memory, a dazzling knack for navigation, and a reflexive honesty that can make him both socially awkward and surprisingly wise.
Buzz realized that while he’d been an attentive father, he didn’t fully understand what it was like to be Zach. So one summer night, the two hit the road to revisit all the places they had lived together in Zach’s twenty-four years. Zach revels in his memories, and Buzz hopes the experience will bring them closer and reveal to him the mysterious workings of his son’s mind and heart. The trip becomes a personal journey for Buzz, yielding revelations about his own parents, the price of ambition, and its effect on his twins.
As father and son journey from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, they see the best and worst of America—and each other. Ultimately, Buzz gains a new and uplifting wisdom, and with the help of both of his twins, learns a vital lesson: Character transcends intellect.
Bissinger's twin sons, Gerry and Zach, were born three minutes apart, and although both boys were born prematurely, Gerry left the hospital after two months able to breathe on his own; Zach remained in the neonatal intensive care unit, struggling to breathe and to survive. Although Zach never recovered from the brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen, he grew into a lovable man who loves people and who is a savant who memorizes people's birthdays, features of maps, but who also loves the familiar and the routine structure of his life. Though Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) clearly adores both his sons, he admits to feeling like having run away from Zach, whether out of fear or indifference or feelings of failure. So when Zach turns 24, Bissinger proposes that the two of them set out on the open road and drive across the country. In this wrenchingly honest road tale, Bissinger searches desperately to discover who his son really is as well as to come to terms with his own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity as a parent. Although Zach is at first resistant to making the trip, he acquiesces and provides comfort and wisdom for his father along the way as Bissinger struggles with his GPS, traffic, and other minor inconveniences over which he often loses patience. In the end, he movingly fears for Zach's future and still sheds a tear for him every day, and he touchingly concludes that Zach is the most fearless man he has ever known, and the most admirable.