With stage-four breast cancer, a terminal diagnosis and six months to live, Jenna fears what awaits her family after she is gone: her husband, Gabe, will be left to raise their daughter alone, and Mia, only seven years old, will be forced to face a world without her mother.
Ten blank tapes to teach her daughter everything she’ll ever need to know.
Dead before Mia ever really got to know her, Jenna exists now only in pictures and watercolored memories, and Mia finds herself struggling to remember her mother in a way that feels real. But on the ninth anniversary of Jenna’s death, she will return to her daughter through a series of audiocassettes. One tape for each of the milestones of Mia’s life, and with them, a letter explaining that Mia should only listen to the tapes when the time is right.
With the help of her mother’s long-gone voice, Mia may just learn how to embrace the challenges and triumphs of her ever-changing life with humor, grace and a lot of hope.
Jenna and Gabe have everything they've ever wanted ... successful careers, a beautiful house and a daughter named Mia. Then Jenna discovers she has breast cancer and does all she can to fight it. It gets to the point where she can continue to fight, be sick all the time only to gain a couple extra months or stop the treatment. Though she'll likely have less time, she chooses to stop the treatment to spend what quality time she does have with her family.
This is the first half of the book.
The second half of the book takes place nine years later. Jenna is long gone and Mia is now 15. Her father gives her ten tapes that Jenna had recorded for Mia and instructs her to obey her mother's wishes and only listen to them when these milestones happened:
- Your wedding day
- Becoming a mother
- College graduation
- Your first love
- Your first broken heart
- Your first time (the sex talk)
- Your father getting remarried
- High school graduation
- Leaving home
- If you're ever in my position
As some of these milestones happen, we get to "hear" the tapes and Jenna's hopes and advice for the daughter she'll never be able to watch grow up. The ones we don't "hear" are at the end of the book.
This is the first book I've read by the author and I liked it. Understandably the first half of the book is much sadder than the second half. I liked the writing style. It is written in third perspective, though I think it would have worked better if it had been written in first person perspective with Jenna's voice in the first half and Mia's voice in the second half. As a head's up, there is some swearing and there's a lot of detail of the effects of Jenna's cancer so I'd recommend it for a mature reader. The editing could have been tighter ... there were a lot of typos, grammatical errors and wrong words used.
I liked Jenna and Gabe. They obviously cared about each other and it's too bad their lives together were cut short. They were lucky to have Ginny, who stepped in to be Mia's nanny. It was interesting to watch the changing dynamic between Jenna and her sister, Sophia, when they knew the end was coming for Jenna. Their mother had died of cancer when they were young ... Jenna had stayed away in school leaving Sophia to take care of their mother. Jenna later felt guilty about it while Sophia understandably pissed. I thought the relationship between Mia and Kris was handled well.