5 Minutes for Books:
Things I Want My Daughters to Know

by Jennifer Donovan

This review is cross-posted at 5 Minutes for Books, as a part of our Mother’s Day Giveaway, going on through April 30. Read the review to see how to win one of three copies here at 5 Minutes for Mom, but please click over and check out the other offerings — a book a day — at 5 Minutes for Books.

The plotline of Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble seems difficult at face value: as Barbara is dying of cancer, she records some thoughts, memories, and advice for her daughters to have after she has gone. Depending on the way it was written, the book could be a four-tissue wiper, or simply a story about how the lives of those grown or nearly-grown young women go on after their mother’s death. I had thought from the description that the story was meant to be more of a family drama than a death-bed melodrama.

I hope I don’t sound callous when I say that I didn’t cry one tear when I read this book. Yes, I got a lump or two in my throat, and objectively the thought of losing a parent is hard — at any age. But as the description of the book alluded, this is really the story of the four sisters. Four young women trying to figure out what it means to grow into adulthood — from the perspective of a teenager, a twentysomething, and two thirty-somethings who are as different as can be. As diverse as their choices and personalities, they all have each other, and they all share their mother in common. From the grave, she is able to tell them things that she couldn’t tell them while she was alive — either because she was too afraid, or because they were too stubborn to listen.

This is basically a year in the life — beginning with the funeral and taking them through that first year. As I read, I realized that it’s not really about one woman’s passing from life. It’s about how we all pass through life, as seen through the young women Hannah, Amanda, Jennifer and Lisa. We pass through childhood, into the testing teen years, into young adulthood where we experience changing expectations of ourselves and others, and then through the many stages of marriage and other relationships where we sacrifice ourselves for those we love.

We could read this book with the intent to dwell on the sadness of a life that was too short, or like the daughters do, we can take the words of this fictional heroine to heart: “Life is short. Even if you don’t get cancer. Even if you die an old lady in your bed. It’s still a blink-and-you-miss-it, ever-increasing-speed-white-knuckle ride” (page 37).

You will see yourself in this novel, in one of these characters. You will see your sisters, your best friend, your husband, your child. Elizabeth Noble writes with spot-on characterizations of people and relationships, and that’s one of thing that makes Things I Want My Daughters to Know a great novel.

The book contains a reading guide, and I think it would spark great book club conversations. You can read the first 60 pages online at Harper Collins using their Browse Inside feature.

Leave a comment on this post to enter to win one of three copies of this book. We’ll announce the winners in next week’s column.

The winner of Empowering Youth is #17 edj.

The Welcome, Little One contest is still open through next week!

Contributing Editor Jennifer Donovan also blogs at Snapshot about life with her tween daughter and preschool son, and is managing editor of 5 Minutes for Books.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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1 Maddy April 20, 2009 at 12:55 am

Hard to resist a shot at a bit of therapy!Cheers

2 Anna April 20, 2009 at 1:29 am

I don’t know if I will cry reading it or not. I used not to but since I had my children I’m very emotional. Not sure if it’s the hormones :)or the wight of responsibility of being a mom.
I will read this book even it I don’t win it.
Thanks for introducing it.

3 Court April 20, 2009 at 1:47 am

I’m up for some reading now that all my studying is over! Though since my daughter is only two I may have to reread this one to update the info!

4 Djp April 20, 2009 at 6:02 am

this could be put to good use!

5 Melonie K. April 20, 2009 at 6:49 am

This sounds like a good read. Please enter me in the drawing. Might be good to pass on to other generations of women in my family when I’m done reading it. :-)

6 Shasta April 20, 2009 at 8:33 am

I would love to read this book, it sounds so good, like something I would really enjoy!

7 Exploramania April 20, 2009 at 9:58 am

This sounds like a great book,can’t wait to read and share it, thanks for the information.

I am having a great party with great wins for you and the family, please tell your friends and let’s have fun..

Gymathtics LIVE Event is going virtual! – Saturday, April 25, 2009, 2-5pm EST

Exploramania is having a Gymathtics LIVE Event in Tampa but wants to invite everyone who cannot physically attend to attend virtually through the Internet. There will be games, prizes, demonstrations, and live photos from the event from 2-5pm on April 25th all streaming through the Internet celebrating Math & Exercise with Gymathtics. This is a GREAT family activity for some safe family FUN. Those participating through the Internet will have added perks by utilizing Social Networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter during the event. Even better, everyone can enter for giveaways, including the Gymathtics DVD, starting TODAY! Share this with your friends and family.

For instructions on how to participate online, visit Exploramania’s Blog at http://www.Exploramania.Blogspot.com.

8 randi oaklief April 20, 2009 at 10:24 am

I’d like to read it, as a mom, I think about this subject alot. Thanks

9 Ellen C. April 20, 2009 at 10:54 am

I’d love to win this book for my sister. Thanks for the chance.

10 Michael Capp April 20, 2009 at 10:56 am

I’d love to win!

11 corrie clemens April 20, 2009 at 11:07 am

i would gift this to my sister, she would like it.

12 KellyMB April 20, 2009 at 11:27 am

I would love to read this!

13 Linda White April 20, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Id really enjoy this tearjerker of a book! The story sounds awesome!

14 Adrienne! April 20, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Would love this. <3

15 Angela Calvert April 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I would love to win this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

accoupons at gmail dot com

16 Beverly April 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I’d love to read this!

17 Sheri April 20, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I would love a copy of this book. I have 2 boys and a daughter. I just finished reading Raising Cain so reading a book about girls would be a refreshing change!

18 janeh April 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm


19 Susan April 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

This sounds like a book I’d like to read. Thanks!

20 Ann Fantom April 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm

This sounds a like avery interesting book that I’d like to read.

21 Nancy April 20, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I’d love to win!

22 Mary Ward April 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm

I’ll cry reading it. I cry at commercials. I’ve been wanting to pick this book up for some time. I’ve read all her other books.

23 Catherine April 20, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Thanx for the contest

24 Cathy W. April 20, 2009 at 11:59 pm

This sounds like a great book. I’d love to win a copy and pass it on after reading it.

25 karly April 21, 2009 at 1:40 am

As a mother, daughter, sister and aunt to many nieces, I’d love to read this book!

26 stampedwithgrace April 21, 2009 at 7:27 am

I have 5 girls and would love to win and read this book!

27 Dawn April 21, 2009 at 7:42 am

I have to say…if I don’t win, I’m definetly going to have to check it out of the library…I can’t imagine not being here for my daughter…and I think it’s so important to help our daughters grow into women…

28 Jennifer Barr April 21, 2009 at 9:40 am

would love to read this :)

29 Evelyn April 21, 2009 at 1:46 pm

interesting reading

30 Deborah Wellenstein April 21, 2009 at 2:34 pm

I’ve been wanting to read this book-thanks for the opportunity!

31 Kristin April 21, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I would love this book- and I think I would be the 4 tissue type of reader- but love every minute of it!

32 Melissa Lampugnano April 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I am just recently getting back to the little bit of my time that has been lost since I had my baby. I want to start reading again Maybe it will be my lucky day.

33 Mozi Esmes Mommy April 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

This looks like a sweet book…

34 Karen L April 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

My being both a mother and a daughter (and a sister as well!), makes me relate to the story in this book completely.

35 TopazTook April 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

This sounds like the sort of book i (and my book group!) would love to read!

36 LaVonne April 21, 2009 at 6:45 pm

It sounds like a good read. Thanks for offering this giveaway!

37 Jen April 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Sounds like a book I would LOVE!

38 LivingforGod April 22, 2009 at 5:48 am

I have a daughter so I’m curious what advice the mother in the story has to offer :).

Please enter me in this giveaway. Thanks!

39 Heather Goldsmith April 22, 2009 at 6:47 am

I” be looking for this at the bookstore, in the meantime please enter me.

40 Bev April 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I’m in my 40′s, my sister’s are in their 20′s and i have 3 teenage daughters, i think we could all learn something from this book.

41 nicole schellhas April 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm

i’m a book addict! i would love to read this one! i have two daughters.. thanks for the chance!

42 Sarah April 22, 2009 at 3:28 pm

enter me!

43 Sandra April 22, 2009 at 5:19 pm

As the Mother of 3 mostly grown daughters and as someone who is called to encourage women to reognize & remember their mothering moments – I would love to read this book.

44 Gary Osborn April 22, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Wooo Hooo Make me a winner!

45 Vicky Boackle April 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

i bet i will cry,this sounds good.

46 Susan C April 23, 2009 at 12:07 am

I probably will cry, but I want to read this anyway!
smchester at gmail dot com

47 Lesley April 23, 2009 at 11:08 am

This is the exact type of books I enjoy. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

48 Sheri April 23, 2009 at 11:15 am

Sounds like am interesting and informative read. A tear jerker…maybe, but probably some good info.

Please enter me. Thanks!

49 jayne April 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm

I would really love to win this! Sounds like a GREAT book!

50 jan koontz April 25, 2009 at 1:45 pm

i would love to win this prize

51 Barb April 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I always enjoy a good read. My mom, sister and I always swap books amongst ourselves!

52 Kristy C April 26, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I would love to read this book!

What a great contest ~ Thanks for posting!

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