Letter to My Daughter
By George Bishop
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345515988, 160pp.)
Publication Date: February 16, 2010
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It’s early morning and I’m sitting here wondering where you are, hoping you’re all right.
A fight, ended by a slap, sends Elizabeth out the door of her Baton Rouge home on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Her mother, Laura, is left to fret and worry—and remember. Wracked with guilt as she awaits Liz’s return, Laura begins a letter to her daughter, hoping to convey “everything I’ve always meant to tell you but never have.”
In her painfully candid confession, Laura shares memories of her own troubled adolescence in rural Louisiana, growing up in an intensely conservative household. She recounts her relationship with a boy she loved despite her parents’ disapproval, the fateful events that led to her being sent away to a strict Catholic boarding school, the personal tragedy brought upon her by the Vietnam War, and, finally, the meaning of the enigmatic tattoo below her right hip.
Absorbing and affirming, George Bishop’s magnificent debut brilliantly captures a sense of time and place with a distinct and inviting voice. Letter to My Daughter is a heartwrenching novel of mothers, daughters, and the lessons we all learn when we come of age.
George Bishop holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he won the department’s Award of Excellence for a collection of stories. He has spent most of the past decade living and teaching overseas in Slovakia, Turkey, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, India, and Japan. He now lives in New Orleans.
"Before you sit down to read this book, put aside a few hours. Or else, you'll miss some appointments. You will be pulled into every paragraph of Letter to My Daughter, especially if you've ever been a parent or a teenager."—Clyde Edgerton, author of The Bible Salesman
"The first thought you have when you read George Bishop's novel, Letter to My Daughter, is; how did a man manage to nail the relationship between a mother and a daughter so flawlessly? But that's not the only magic Mr. Bishop pulls off. He's also one of those rare writers who can write about the heart —and heartbreak—without sugarcoating, yet you feel uplifted at the end. In his skillful hands, reality is a cause for hope, first love is a first step on life's journey, and youthful emotions are to be forever cherished. If you have a mom or a daughter—or a son or a dad—share this great read with them." —Louise Shaeffer, author of Serendipity
"George Bishop is very good at doing a difficult thing. He dares to write about the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship. He is alert to the feeling of helpless love in a mother, and the stumbling way she tries to speak to her absent daughter. The story, told through a letter, is compelling and heartfelt."—Elizabeth Cox, author of Slow Moon
"Letter to my Daughter encompasses all the love and hope and fear of being both a parent and a child. Bishop's story, this letter from a mother, will break your heart even as it reminds you of the resiliency of love." —Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All the Numbers
"George Bishop has brilliantly conceived an unforgettable story about the angst of adolescence, the complexities of family relationships, and the depth of a mother’s love for her daughter. Written with stunning clarity and compassion, Letter to My Daughter fills the heart. "—Bev Marshall, author of Walking Through Shadows and Right as Rain
"George Bishop writes Letter to My Daughter with a keen eye, an open heart and a lot of love. This mother's letter to her fifteen year old daughter will stay with you long after you've put it down. I am sure I will return to it again as a cautionary tale and a parable of forgiveness. I highly recommend it."—Adriana Trigiani, author of Lucia, Lucia and Very Valentine
"In George Bishop’s spare and powerful Letter to My Daughter, a mother confesses with startling honesty a life of passion and loss and survival. Meant as an apology to her runaway child, it is both heartbreaking and heart healing."-John Biguenet, author of Oyster and The Torturer’s Apprentice
"Letter to My Daughter is a first novel of immense power. It makes George Bishop a novelist to keep your eye on. As a father of five daughters, reading the book made me wish I’d written a letter to my own girls, describing my own failures and dilemmas as an American teenager." —Pat Conroy, bestselling author of South of Broad