Letter to My Daughter
Laura and her teenage daughter Liz are fighting, and Liz has run away from the family home. While she waits nervously for news of her daughter’s whereabouts, Laura writes Liz a letter, confessing many of the darkest secrets of her youth. Laura’s adolescence in a small town in Louisiana during the late 1960s was difficult. Her bigoted father ruled the household with an iron fist, and her meek mother never dared to cross him. When Laura falls in love with Tim, a Cajun boy from the wrong side of the tracks, her parents promptly deposit her in a Catholic reform school. She manages to elude her parents and continue her relationship with Tim, which quickly becomes more intense and adult than Laura can handle. When Tim decides to enlist in the military to serve in Vietnam, Laura is unsure of how she should react. The war is unpopular, and Tim is risking his life to build a future with her — a future that she is no longer sure that she wants.
The reader knows nothing about Liz, or why her mother is so angry with her, other than typical mother-teenage daughter drama. She seems to be a stock “angry teen” character whose sole purpose is to provide a framework for Laura to spill her guts. Many of the characters seem like caricatures — a kindly nun, a mean-girl roommate, the poor-but-honorable boyfriend, the rich kid who takes advantage of women — there’s not much substance there. The ending, which features an uprising among the young women of the Sacred Heart Academy, is implausible but still moving. Despite its flaws, Letter to My Daughter is likely to resonate with readers, especially those who enjoy novels about strained parent-child relationships.