Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop (A Fiction)

Letter to My Daughter

George Bishop (Adult Fiction)

Arguments. Mothers and daughters have them often, but this argument was different. This one ended with a mother’s slap and a daughter’s angry exodus into the night. As worry and regret floods her brain, Laura sits down in her quiet kitchen and begins writing a letter to her daughter, Elizabeth. A letter that she hopes will give Elizabeth some insight into her upbringing and past in order to help bridge the divide that has grown between the two of them. Simple and honest words on paper that might heal both of their souls and perhaps lead to understanding and forgiveness.
Anyone who automatically dismisses this book because the author is a man will be depriving themselves of a thoughtful, reflective, and meaningful read. I quickly became lost in this story and often found myself thinking it a memoir rather than a work of fiction as the emotional details are strikingly vivid and the writing is genuine and immersive. Although it’s a quick read, it instantly draws you in and will either make you wish that you had received a letter like this from your own parent or that you had taken the time to write a letter like this to your own child.  
Through Letter to My Daughter, George Bishop reminds those of us fortunate enough to be a parent, that our children really don’t realize that we had an actual life before their grand entrance into the world. That whenever they utter, “You don’t get it” and “You just don’t understand” that we truly do get it because we also dreamed big dreams and had our heart broken and were disappointed by those people that we thought we could trust. We also laughed and cried and had horrible (and sometimes humorous) lapses in judgement and so yes, we really do understand because at one time, we were just like them—young, overly confident, woefully unprepared, and ready to take on the world…whatever that meant. And while we beat our heads against the wall trying to impart our hard-earned wisdom into their beautifully thick skulls, we find ourselves saying, “You don’t get it” and “You just don’t understand” and then we realize that just like that, the circle is now complete.  

Throughout the book, I kept being drawn to the character of Sister Mary Margaret, a kind and compassionate nun who taught at Sacred Heart Academy where Laura was sent. Laura quoted several of her sayings in her letter and every one of them is a gem in its own right: Never be afraid of the truth; Begin at the beginning; Avoid sentimentality at all costs; and my personal favorite, Be good, and if you can’t be good, at least be sensible. With advice like this, maybe Sister Mary Margaret should consider writing a letter, too?

Rating: 4/5

* Book cover image attributed to: www.amazon.com

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Anton Disclafani (Adult Fiction)

It’s 1930 and America is in the midst of the Great Depression.  The southern wealthy send their girls to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, an elite equestrienne boarding school located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  For 15-year old Thea Atwell however, her stay is more punishment than privilege—a repercussion of “the mess” that would impact the lives of those closest to her.  With its established social hierarchy and strict moral culture, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls forces Thea, for the first time in her life, to undertake girlhood friendships and deal with rival animosities.

To say this book was disappointing is an understatement.  Just shy of 400 pages, it was a futile investment of my time and emotions.  Thea is a girl incapable of making good life choices.  Although we could easily attribute this to her age and being raised in near total social isolation, we still can’t overlook the fact that at nearly every moral and ethical juncture, she ignores her better instincts and chooses the path that leads to her own self-fulfillment and pleasure—regardless of the consequences.  Very seldom does she bear any responsibility for her actions or show the slightest bit of remorse.  Unfortunately, the adults in this book don’t fare any better, although the reasons behind some of their decisions (which seem excessive, cruel, or just simply foolish at the time) are explained toward the end of the book.  By this time, it is much too late for the reader to scrounge up any vestige of interest or sympathy for these characters.

I’ve noticed this book appearing on several 2018 summer reading lists.  Between an unrepentant main character and an unmercifully long story devoid of any moral lessons, this book is better left in the stable than taken to the beach.

Rating: 2/5

*Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com