4 out of 4 stars
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“To the girl who will always have my entire heart. I love you, Siena Brynn.”
Dear Siena by Ashley Girres is a collection of letters that the author has addressed to her daughter. The letters begin at Siena’s birth and span over seven years. Throughout the entries, the author expresses her hopes and dreams for Siena. She covers some weightier topics as well, including parenting with illness, grief, and suicide. While the letters are multifaceted, the main message is clear—Ashley’s love for her daughter trumps all.
I was instantly drawn to this book once I read the blurb; a collection of letters addressed to a child is quite a gift. It got me thinking about my legacy. Besides memories, what tangible piece of myself would I leave my children once I am gone?
The book is comprised of thirty-two heartfelt letters penned by Ashley. When I began reading the letters, I quickly felt a deep connection to her. While she expressed the joys of raising a child, she also explained the realities of parenting through difficult times. In “RA, Dear,” she described the struggle of living in pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. She confessed that constant pain sometimes caused feelings of sadness. She said, “There may be days that I just want to lay in bed and cry. Please don’t worry about me. I am just mourning the life that I expected to live.” I admired Ashley’s transparency about feeling defeated. I think it’s crucial to teach kids that there is no such thing as perfection, and even as parents, we have moments of vulnerability.
In “Roots and Wings,” Ashley wrote about Siena’s first day of preschool. This letter resonated with me because it wasn’t that long ago that I shared her sentiments as I sent my youngest off to school. She expressed excitement for Siena, but also trepidation regarding the emotional journey that her daughter would endure.
Another one of my favorite entries was Ashley’s advice to Siena in “No One Owes You Anything.” In life, most parents want their kids to have more than they did—more opportunities, more love, etc. Ashley made her points very clear in this letter. If you put others on a pedestal, they will surely let you down. She said, “When you realize that no one owes you happiness or anything else, you’ll be freed from expecting what isn’t likely to be.” While it may seem harsh, I believe the author was trying to toughen up her daughter by telling her to expect less from others.
This book was beautifully written; it inspired me to write to my children, and I cannot name one thing that I didn’t like about it. The writing was professionally edited, and I only noticed a few grammatical errors. With that being said, I chose to give the book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It was thought-provoking, and Ashley’s love for Siena reminded me of the infinite love I have for my two sons.
Dear Siena would appeal to readers who are parents and enjoy reading about the bond between parent and child. The letters address a wide array of topics, and I am sure you will find something that resonates with you. It was a pleasure reading and reviewing this book!
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