“Who you surround yourself with and look up to influence who you are and who you become.”
I make a conscious effort to seek out and build relationships with kind, intelligent, generous, passionate people who are committed to changing the world. I am so proud of two of my dearest friends, Sayantani Dasgupta and Cara Natterson, who have been committed to education, healing, creativity and representation for decades now. I am bursting with excitement to share their new books! (And note – they BOTH are NY Times bestselling authors!)
Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Boys, by Cara Natterson, MD
I met Sayantani on my first day of college and immediately she became one of my closest friends. It has been 3 decades of friendship now – we’ve been by each other’s sides during summer internships, meeting our husbands, having kids and establishing our careers. She’s a pediatrician, narrative medicine advocate, social justice champion, college professor and author of teen fantasy fiction!
This is what Sayantani says of Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series:
When I was a mom myself and my son at about 8 or 9 years became a huge Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fan, I realized that the same problems of representation I’d faced as a kid were still around. Yes, there were more stories about brown kids, immigrant kids, and marginalized kids—but they were usually serious, realistic books, not fun romps or magical fantasies. And that’s when I had an idea. What if I was to write a story for my fantasy-loving son and his younger sister in which a brown kid – a brown girl—was going around being dashing, and having sidekicks, cracking jokes and kicking butt? What if, like the Percy Jackson books, this story was loosely based on the folktales I loved as a kid? What if, instead of going to a real place called India, my heroine’s journey led her into a fantasy land—the Kingdom Beyond Seven Oceans and Thirteen Rivers—where a lot of these folktales take place? And that’s very simply how this book series was born, as a story in which my own kids could see themselves being brave, dashing, smart, funny, strong and true. My books combine Bengali folktales + string theory (which mirrors the multiple universe experience of an immigrant) + New Jersey humor and sass!
“DasGupta once again wittily meshes Bengali folktales, intergalactic science, and a spectacular world of her own creation in a yarn that is part hero’s quest, part immigrant coming-of-age tale.”
– Kirkus Reviews, starred review
When I had Tara, I chose our pediatrician because she had great academic pedigree – Harvard, Johns Hopkins Medical School, UCSF residency. I did not know Cara when she first checked out baby Tara, but trusted her skills and advice from that first meeting. Low and behold (!), when Sayantani was visiting me and my newborn 17 years ago, Sayantani casually mentioned she was meeting her close Med School friend for dinner, and it was Cara! Since then, Cara has become one of my closest friends in LA. We meet regularly to talk about our kids, educational philosophy, latest business adventures, and brainstorm books. She is the author of the American Girl books – The Care and Keeping of You, for younger and older girls, and Guy Stuff for boys. These books and her counsel led me to write Just Breathe and my other books for kids!
This is what Cara says about why she wrote Decoding Boys:
It all started when I wrote Guy Stuff, the boy version of my girl puberty series The Care and Keeping of You. These are books for and about tweens, covering the most basic facets of growing up (exercise, nutrition, sleep, showering… with soap! We’re talking basic…). But as I wrote and spoke to parents across the country, I was stunned by the discrepancy between how parents tend to talk to their sons versus their daughters. They talk to their daughters. When it came to their sons, they described suddenly monosyllabic, grunty boys who retreated behind closed doors, and more than that they told stories of respecting that privacy, leaving their boys be, waiting until one day they emerged more conversant and by then, many fully grown. But we live in a world which demands conversations: our girls are protected by the language they acquire as they talk about body shifts, mood swings, social dynamics, sex and consent and porn. If we don’t have these same conversations with our boys – conversations that we never would have had with our own parents largely because so much of the landscape has changed – we leave them without the skills to talk about struggles or challenges or even triumphs. I believe they not only deserve conversation, they need it. That’s why I wrote Decoding Boys – because this obvious advice can sound good and well, but be very tricky to implement.
“For rational, evidence-based advice on how to talk to your son about every internal and external force he’ll experience from fourth grade through college, Cara Natterson’s zippy, bighearted Decoding Boys is the guide you need.”
– The New York Times
There are few things in life that make me as happy as seeing people I love having the courage to share their gifts with the world. Sayantani and Cara are my emotional anchors, but also my inspiration as people who are living with intent. I promise you will feel smarter, more inspired, more prepared, and generally lighter by exploring their work.
You can learn more about all the incredible things they do:
Sayantani Dasgupta : www.sayantanidasgupta.com and on Twitter @sayantani16
Cara Natterson: www.worryproofmd.com and on Twitter @caranatterson
Please do check out their books, and let me know what you think!