Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble
Published by Penguin Adult
Publication Date: September 4th 2008
Genres: Fiction, General, Contemporary Women
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'My beautiful girls. If you've read this, you'll know it contains some - not all, but some - of the things I want my daughters to know. And the greatest of these is love ...'
How would you say goodbye to those you love most in the world?
Barbara must say a final farewell to her four daughters. But how can she find the words? And how can she leave them when they each have so much growing up to do? There's commitment-phobic Lisa. Brittle, unhappily married Jennifer. Free-spirited traveller Amanda. And teenage Hannah, stumbling her way towards adulthood.
Barbara's answer is to write each daughter a letter, finally expressing the hopes, fears, dreams and secrets she couldn't always voice. These words will touch the girls in different - sometimes shocking - ways, unlocking emotions and passions to set them on their own journey of discovery through life.
Things I Want My Daughters To Know is an amazing tale of sisterhood and the trials and tribulations we often face as we grow. It was a wonderful, poignant read and one I enjoyed immensely. I’ll be searching for more Elizabeth Noble in the future.
When their mother dies, sisters Lisa, Jennifer, Amanda and Hannah try to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. Although Barbara knew she had cancer and the girls were somewhat prepared for it, it was still hard to accept. Especially since each of them have a lot of growing to do.
Lisa is in her 30’s and has a serious commitment phobia. Although she’s with a wonderful man and they’re living together, she still holds part of herself back. And when he asks her to marry him, she agrees in a moment of weakness, then immediately regrets it, because there’s something she hasn’t told him, something that will rock the foundation of their relationship, very possibly ruining it.
Jennifer married the man of her dreams and planned to live happily-ever-after. But five years later, things have gone stale in their marriage and she’s desperately unhappy. Although everyone can see it, she tries to pretend nothing is wrong and suffers in silence. Though she’s loathe to admit it, her inability to get pregnant is the reason for the distance between them now. As the weeks and months go by after her mother’s death, Jennifer has to face some hard truths about herself and the state of her marriage.
Amanda is a born wanderer, never staying in one place for very long. Although this sounds rather glamorous, the truth is, Amanda shies away from emotional ties, and that’s why she stays away from her family and rarely makes close friends. Her father died when she was young (her parents had long since divorced anyway) and her mother remarried, then had another child, which left her feeling somewhat displaced. Not that she wasn’t loved, for she was, but just that she didn’t fit as Jennifer and Lisa did as the oldest, or Hannah as the baby. I suppose you could say she has the middle child syndrome. But then she meets a man, one she feels differently about than any she’s ever known before. He is, in fact, the one that urges her to read the letter her mother left for her, the one she’s been carrying with her but hadn’t been able to bring herself to read. But what she finds inside completely rocks her world and makes her question everything she ever knew about her mother, and about herself.
Hannah is the youngest and just on the cusp of womanhood when her mother dies. Although she has her father – whom she’s very close with – she’s at the age where she desperately needs her mother. At loose ends, she starts dating a much older boy and doing things she’d never done before, like sneaking out of the house and lying about where she’s been. It isn’t long before she’s completely immersed in a life she isn’t sure she can extract herself from.
This was a very compelling read. All four of these women are flawed, real women who are facing real life trials and tribulations. I was immediately drawn into their separate stories as they searched for themselves, but even more I was drawn to them as a whole, as sisters. Watching them grow closer to each other was wonderful.
Of the four personal stories I think I enjoyed Amanda’s the most. I think perhaps because she was the one I identified with the most, and also because she was the one who was dealt the hardest blow when her mother died.
I think Lisa’s story was my least favorite, but that isn’t saying much, because though it wasn’t my favorite, it was still wonderful.I think my issues stemmed from the fact that I disagree strongly with the choices Lisa made and had a hard time identifying with her.
What Hannah and Jennifer face are real life issues many of us have faced as well. I loved seeing Jennifer grow as a person. And watching Hannah grow up and mature reminded me somewhat of myself as a teenager.
This is a deep, emotional story I didn’t want to see end. I’d highly recommend it.
4.5 out of 5