Act Like a Man
Dell Lane Press
Act Like a Man is the story of a nearly twenty-year-old men’s group started by the book’s author, Ken Solin. The book is a testimony of the lives of several men who found the courage to share their individual stories and to strive to become better men. Solin offers readers a precious opportunity to experience the raw, honest interactions between a group of men as they excise old demons and open their hearts and minds to personal growth and change. While the lessons shared from this men’s group may positively impact the men who read this book, the content may also be a blessing for any woman who has found herself puzzled by the behavior of the men in her life.
After attending an event put on by the mythopoetic men’s movement leader, Robert Bly, Solin decides to start his own men’s group. The event opened up old wounds for the author concerning his abusive childhood. Although somewhat afraid of this new venture, Solin has a desire to improve his relationships with men and to begin healing from past pain. The first meeting is volatile and many men, including Solin, act out in anger. Two men leave the group after the first meeting. But over an eighteen-year period, the group settles into a core of six to seven men who make a commitment to be honest, open and respectful of each other. Each man is viewed as equal; his problems and pain as valid as the next man’s. This group becomes a safe place for the men to speak their truths. They also learned to expect and accept constructive criticism.
Solin takes the lead in sharing his pain when he talks in depth about the physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. With the support of the group, Solin learns that the abuse is the origin of his fear of men. He also grows to understand that the absence of protection from his mother and sister is at the root of his mistrust of women. Within the protection of the group, Solin slowly grows past the pain of his childhood and begins the hard work of becoming the man he has always wanted to be.
What is most striking about this book is the unadulterated honesty of the men in the group. Once the ground rules are set, every man speaks his mind. The language is raw and unapologetic. And the feelings expressed are genuine: fear of other men, mistrust of women, discomfort with conflict, and a sense of poor self-worth due to a history of abandonment. What is revealed as each of the men’s layers are peeled back is either a resistance to deal with the pain and anger in their lives or a willingness to become their best selves. I walked away from this book with the feeling that the core members who continue to meet are really good men I would like to know personally. I also came away with the understanding that men and women are suffering from many of the same demons. We are all much more alike than I ever imagined.
Act Like a Man is an amazing look into the hearts of men and the pain that keeps many from being their authentic selves. It is also a lesson in how making a commitment to change can dramatically improve lives. I highly recommend it.
Melissa Brown Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers