As a white man who grew up in Iowa, Calvin Hennick has one view of the world. But, since he married a black woman and has bi-racial children, he's realized that he and the rest of his family, particularly his son Nile, experience two different Americas. To deal with this, the summer Nile is five, Hennick decides to take him on a road trip to experience America, to bond, and to maybe figure out what it means to be a father to a black child.
I'm not sure Hennick figured all of that out, but he is a supremely engaging writer, and told his story -- of the road trip, but also about the relationship he has with his own family -- with humor, honesty, and heart. It's a story for parents, yes, but also for anyone who thinks about race in America. Excellent.
— Melissa Fox
A memoir about fatherhood, family, and
what it means to be a man in America.
Winner of Pushcart’s 2019 Editor’s Book Award
Five years into fatherhood, Calvin Hennick is plagued by self-doubt and full of questions. How can he teach his son to be a man, when his own father figures abandoned him? As a white man, what can he possibly teach his biracial son about how to live as a black man in America? And what does it even mean to be a man today, when society’s expectations of men seem to change from moment to moment?
In search of answers, Calvin takes his young son on the road, traveling across the country to the annual rodeo in his small Iowa hometown. Along the way, a stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame turns into an impromptu lesson about racism and segregation. In Niagara Falls, a day of arcade games and go-karts unexpectedly morphs into a titanic struggle between father and son. A stop in Chicago rips the scars off of old wounds. And back in Iowa, Calvin is forced to confront the most difficult question of all: What if his flaws and family history doom him to repeat the mistakes of the past?
In this unforgettable debut memoir, Calvin Hennick holds a mirror up to both himself and modern America, in an urgent and timely story that all parents, and indeed all Americans, need to read.
About the Author
Calvin Hennick is a business and technology writer based in
Boston. He wrote for many years for The
Boston Globe and his prize-winning work has appeared in over 50
A tender and engrossing travelogue that fully embodies “what it means to be a man and a father.” — Starred Review
"In this powerful memoir, Calvin Hennick -- a white father trying to prepare his tenderhearted brown son for an often-hostile world -- attempts to come to terms with the scars left by his own painful family history. ONCE MORE TO THE RODEO is a hilarious and deeply moving journey, simultaneously optimistic yet also clear-eyed about the difficulties of fatherhood and race." — Celeste Ng, author of “Little Fires Everywhere”
As a father I found myself nodding along with this memoir the whole way. Authentic, compelling, and relatable, Once More to the Rodeo brings the complex themes of fatherhood, identity, and family to life in a unique way. Calvin Hennick, a gifted storyteller, has hit it out of the park with this memoir – truly a fantastic read for fathers and sons alike!
— Sam Kennedy, President and CEO of the Boston Red Sox
Calvin Hennick’s memoir about a road trip with his son hits all the right notes and touches our American nerves — on the subjects of fatherhood, racism, and responsibility. The book is beautifully constructed and very moving. I loved it. — Charles Baxter
In the journey of a father and son, Calvin Hennick has written a heartfelt, searching story about America. 'Once More to the Rodeo' is rich with themes of the rural and urban divide, tradition and legacy, the complicated landscapes of race — but most of all, love. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time. — Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, author of “The Fact of a Body”