Thursday, August 22, 2013

348 (2013 #32). Letter to My Daughter

 by George Bishop

This slim (126-page) novel is the 2010 debut of George Bishop, a former actor and teacher from New Orleans.  Set in Baton Rouge and in Zachary, Louisiana, the book is mostly a long letter written by a mother to her runaway 15-year-old daughter in 2004.  Laura, the mother, looks back at herself at age 15 in 1970, hoping that her experiences will convince her daughter Liz that Laura is capable of understanding her.

In 1970, Zachary was a pretty rural town, just undergoing desegregation in the high school, and Laura's parents are rather strict and conservative with their only child.  They are somewhat bigoted, too, looking down not only on African-Americans, but on the poor whites of the area too - like Laura's older boyfriend Tim.

An incident causes Laura's parents to send her to Baton Rouge to board at an all-girls Catholic high school there, and Tim joins the Army, at the height of the Vietnam War.  The story follows Laura through the rest of her high school years in her letter to Liz, interspersed with updates in 2004 on hers and her husband’s wait for Liz to return.

I read this book in one day, as I was very engrossed in Laura's story.  I was, however, a bit disappointed in the ending.  I would have liked to know more about how Laura met and married Liz's father, and what happened AFTER the ending (but I don't want to give away any spoilers!).

I was also rather amazed at what a good job George Bishop, who is male, did in writing from a woman's viewpoint.  I would recommend this book as an easy, light read, that might be particularly enjoyed by anyone who was a teen in the early 1970s (like me - there were references to some of my favorite songs from that era), as well as girls who went to Catholic school (like me) or who grew up in the South (like me).

© Amanda Pape - 2013

[This advance reader edition was sent to me by  It will be passed on to someone else to enjoy.]

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