by: George Bishop
Published by Ballantine Books
rating: 3 out of 5
In the early spring I was in a local bookstore with a friend browsing though the new releases, which is my absolute favorite past time. I saw the title of this book and was intrigued. I read the first paragraph:
How to begin this? It's early morning and I'm sitting here wondering where you are, hoping you're all right. I haven't slept since you left. Your father says there's no sense in phoning the police yet; you're probably just blowing off steam, and you'll be back as soon as you run out of money or the car runs out of gas, whichever comes first. I shouldn't be so hard on myself, he says, What with the way you spoke to me last night, it would take more forbearance than anyone's capable of not to react the way I did, and besides, it wasn't even that much of a slap.
I was immediately riveted. This was a letter from a mother to a run away daughter -- I assume a teenager. But wait? Who was the author of the book again? George Bishop. Now this is interesting - a man writing as a mother to her rebellious daughter. I knew I had to read it.
As is typical for new releases, I had to wait about a month before I was able to borrow the book from my local library. I waited until the day before it was due to read it (which I easily read in one sitting). I had every intention to write the review immediately, but then life happened.
So here I am - several months after reading the book with little more to write than my initial impressions.
I liked it. I think I was perhaps more impressed with the author's ability to write as a convincing female than perhaps I was with the story itself. In my humble opinion, he nailed her voice: the deep affection for her daughter, coupled with the high levels of frustration associated with raising said daughter. I know some may disagree -- but I think there is definitely something to the Daddy's Little Girl and Mama's Boy syndrome than just myth. Mothers and daughters tend to fight and there is definitely a period of time where they rarely see eye to eye. I was captivated by his talent at capturing this subtle detail in such a realistic way.
The mother begins this letter - obviously feeling remorse for having slapped her child and perhaps guilt for a possible negative outcome due to her running away -- in order to keep her mind from going down paths that she would rather not pursue (there are too many headline news stories that do not end well for runaways). The daughter is missing for an entire day (nearly 24 hours) so the letter is along one.
The letter also serves to tell her background story to her daughter, to show that they are really not as different from one another as each might have thought. While her story is definitely not my story, --- I do believe that all mothers and daughters share a common bond that for some reason they are reluctant to admit until later in life.
Waiting for you, writing this letter, I feel like I'm teetering between these two sentiments, a pessimism born of experience and a desperate hope born of helplessness. In dredging up these old griefs from my past, I cling to the thought that this act itself will somehow create a better future for both of us, that with these words I'll weave a charm that will spell our reconciliation and draw you home. (page 70)
The story does end on a hopeful note and I felt satisfied in the end. In fact, it made me wonder if perhaps more mother/daughter relationships can be repaired "before it is too late" by the simple act of writing an honest, heart-to-heart letter. Sometimes the free flow of words (without the heated interruptions and need to defend) can be a cleansing, reconciliatory activity for all.
So while I would recommend the book, I will do so with this caveat. A good friend of mine read the book and was not at all impressed. She surmised that perhaps it is because she raised only sons. I think I might agree with her assumption. Perhaps there is the need to have an intimate knowledge of that mother/daughter relationship to fully appreciate this epistle. Have any of you read this book? I would love to hear your opinions.