The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys To Grow Up with Kindness, Courage, and Grit

Random. Sept. 2020. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593175293.
Gr 3-7–This self-help book provides specific strategies to lean into vulnerability, dismantle toxic messages about masculinity, and ultimately become an enlightened human. Beede explains, “In our culture, we have a lot of bizarre ideas about what’s manly.” Readers are encouraged to read the text with a respected, trusted adult. An avid traveler, an accomplished adventurer, and a motivational speaker, Beede seeks to provide boys with the tools to help them become successful men. He acknowledges that he has made errors in his life but recognizes that no one is perfect. Beede writes in the first person and speaks directly to readers. The text features anecdotes and examples from ancient cultures to contemporary scenarios. The book is divided into three “training phases” and presents eight challenges. Back matter includes resources, a bibliography, and acknowledgments but does not include an index. Sex is discussed in the sixth challenge. Following the headline “When Do We Talk About Sex, Dude,” the section discusses masturbation, pornography, the #MeToo movement, consent, and sexually transmitted infections. Beede advises readers to “talk about this chapter, and this aspect of yourself, with an adult you trust, like, and respect.” However, it seems this chapter is filtered through a heteronormative lens. There are references to the biological anatomy of men and boys; the text doesn’t delve too deeply into how toxic masculinity impacts individuals who do not adhere to the gender binary.
VERDICT A conversational handbook that decries the sexist idea that “boys will be boys.”

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