George Bishop Jr.’s Letter to My Daughter is narrated by a Louisiana mother whose daughter has just run away from home after a typical fight with her parents. To cope with the anxiety, the mother writes a demonstrative history of her own teenage angst to provide them some common ground from which to begin anew.
“But believe it or not, I was your age once, and I had the same ugly fights with my parents. And I promised myself that if I ever had a daughter, I would be a better parent to her than mine were to me. My daughter, I told myself, would never have to endure the same inept upbringing that I did.” (Page 4 of ARC)
Laura Jenkins takes her daughter back in time to when she is a young high school girl during the 1970s and the Vietnam War. She falls in love with a young man, Tim Prejean, but he’s the wrong kind of man in her parent’s eyes. How can she make them see that he’s exactly the man they should want her to be with and love. But it all hits the fan one night and she’s sent away to Catholic school even though her family is Baptist. Charity runs deep at Sacred Heart Academy, but Laura’s love still burns for her sweetheart, Tim.
Bishop’s prose is conversational as Laura continues to write her letter to Elizabeth, whom she named after the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese #43 says, “I shall but love thee better after death,” and her poems would complement this novel well. There is a great sadness and love in this letter. Laura wants to make amends to her daughter and to generate the closeness she always dreamed would be between them.
“Up until that day I had known her only as a pale older nun who seemed unnaturally preoccupied with grammar; she smelled musty, like a library, and she rustled when she walked, like her very insides were made of parchment.” (page 35 of ARC)
“And then there was silence: black silence, that in the moments as I gripped the phone seemed to grow deeper and deeper until it was black as the dark spaces between the stars.” (page 59 of ARC)
Bishop’s prose is poetic and easily absorbing, transporting readers to a tumultuous time in U.S. history when the country was divided about war. But as young men and women engaged one another in high school, how would these larger issues have impacted them? Letter to My Daughter answers these questions in a way that will tear into the hearts of readers, generate a profound sympathy and confusion about what motivates humans to make war, and how teens handle not only the typical struggles they face of which boy to date and which dress to wear, but also the larger issues that permeate their lives.
About the Author:
George Bishop, Jr. graduated with degrees in English Literature and Communications from Loyola University in New Orleans before moving to Los Angeles to become an actor. He later traveled overseas as an English teacher to Czechoslovakia, Turkey and Indonesia before returning to the States to earn his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, where he studied under Clyde Edgerton, Wendy Brenner, and Rebecca Lee.
Giveaway; I have one copy of the book for U.S./Canada only:
1. Leave a comment about whether you think a male can do justice to the mother-daughter relationship.
2. Blog, Tweet, Facebook, etc. the giveaway and leave me a link.
Deadline is May 11, 2010, 11:59 PM EST.
Check the other stops on the tour.
This is my 4th book for the 2010 Vietnam War Reading Challenge.
This is my 30th book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.