By Paul Tough
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Why do some children grow into successful, stable adults while others flounder? Helicopter parents, beware: You won't find the answer in Kumon books or Baby Einstein videos. The road to success, as journalist Paul Tough argues, is spattered with letdown and hardship. Apparently, the secret to a happy, healthy adulthood is learning early on to deal with disappointment and developing character traits—persistence, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control—to surmount it. Tough mines the literature and powwows with scientists, high school principals, and a middle-school chess team to show why it's likely these "noncognitive" skills, not measures like IQ, matter most.
This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones.