"My novel Letter to My Daughter features a middle-aged mother, her 15-year-old daughter, a boy in Vietnam, and a tattoo. Straight off, let me make a confession: I don’t have a daughter. I don’t have a tattoo, and I don’t know anyone who fought in the Vietnam War. How, then, did I come to write a book so far removed from my real-life experience?
Fortunately, there’s a good story behind this novel, and it begins in India........."
(This piece on Amazon about how the author got the idea for this book is really interesting. You might want to take a look.)
I love the way this book was written. It is a letter from a mother to her teen daughter who has just stormed out of the house after an argument between the two. The mother decides to tell the 15-year-old about her own stormy adolescence. She writes about her first love, her years in a Catholic boarding school, and the estranged relationship she has with her parents.
The book is sad, but there is a certain poignancy to it that leads the reader to hope for the daughter's return and a reconciliation with her mother and father. I was caught up into the story of Laura (the mother) and her boyfriend, Tim, as they sought to find meaning in their lives filled with prejudice, war, and what it was like to grow up in the 1970's. I could relate to this mother who wanted to help her daughter understand that she was not alone in her feelings and struggles with life:
"So what I've decided to do is that while I'm sitting here waiting for you to return, I'll write down in a letter everything I've always meant to tell you but never have. Maybe a letter is a poor substitute for the talk I always wanted us to have. But it's a start at least, and I hope you'll find it in yourself, if not today then sometime in the future, to accept it in the same spirit that I write it. Think of it as my birthday present to you - something that my mother never told me, but that I'll endeavor now with all my heart to tell you: the truth about how a girl grows up. The truth about life."
I would recommend this book to all mothers (and fathers) of teenagers who struggle with connecting with their children. And perhaps it can also be read by the teens themselves (you may want to read it first to decide if it is appropriate for your child.) Better yet, why don't you write your own letter? I'm sure your daughter (or son) would love to hear about your own young life.
(There are a few scenes of adolescent s*x, but they are not graphic and, in my opinion, do not take away from the enjoyment of the book.)