Things I Want My Daughters to Know
Morrow, Apr 2008, $22.95
Barbara Forbes knows she will die soon from cancer. She tells her second husband and her four adult daughters how she wants them to attend her funeral; none are to weep as they have shared a great life with each other and none are to dress in graveyard black as they were, are, and will continue to be a colorful family.
Barbara leaves behind four letters; one to each of her daughters offering wisdom from the soon to be dearly departed. Over the next year after she is buried each opens their late mom’s last words of wisdom. Barbara encourages her oldest Lisa to allow someone to get close to her; Andy would like to be that someone. To Jennifer she advises to reach out to your husband and stop worrying about fertility and offspring as the means to save her marriage. To Amanda she says to stop running away from the truth especially that her father was neither of her mother’s husbands. To her youngest teenager Hannah she says rebellion is okay as long as it harms no one including herself, but she should take her time growing up as she has a precious life ahead of her.
This concept of having a deceased provide words of wisdom has been done many times before, but Elizabeth Noble keeps it fresh avoiding cliché adages by focusing on the recipients although Barbra’s diary and letters are well written. Each of her children had a different relationship with their mom; something wise Barbara recognized and encourages them accordingly; she knew her children. Although the foursome heed their late mom’s guidance too easily leading to nirvana, contemporary fans will appreciate this character study of four sisters, the men in their lives, and their mother still there for them though she passed away.