An Open Letter to Debbie Macomber: My Review of A Girls Guide to Moving On

Dear Debbie,
My name is Kathryn. I am a part time bookseller at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Crestview Hills, KY. I was lucky enough to receive one of the advanced copies of your new book A Girl’s Guide to Moving On and saw in the front that you like to hear from your readers. So, I thought I would write this blog post/open letter to you.

 
Your name has been a staple in my house for at least the past 10 years. My mom has been a huge fan of yours for quite a while. Funnily enough it was my baby sister and not my mom who told me that under no uncertain terms, I had to read one of your books.
My sister, Juli, is insanely gifted when it comes to art and creating things. She’s been known to on various occasions make my mom, siblings, or myself little creations “just because”. One day she called my mom and I and asked if we had “any extra romance-y type books we could part with”. My mom was nice enough to mention her stock pile of some of your books. My mom and I used to frequent a hole in the wall type book store by our house (sadly, it has now gone out of business) and my mom would buy MULTIPLE copies of your books. Especially The Forgetful Bride. Since I do the same with various books I never questioned her. (I found out later she gives them as gifts along with a little basket of goodies)

 

So, my sister starts cutting out romantic lines from The Forgetful Bride and ends up building this beautiful frame for a picture/quote from a movie. Now, as much as it pains me to admit that one of my siblings damaged a book in anyway, I swear it was for a good cause!

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Sorry for the grainy photo!

She read the entire book while creating this piece for me and grabbed a new copy from the stock pile, handed it to me and said “You read so fast. This will take you no time at all. You HAVE to read this now.” I did. I read it right then and there. It took me 45 minutes. I came back to her sobbing and thanking her for making me read it. Thus began my own personal enjoyment of your books. I can go into detail about The Forgetful Bride, how much I ABSOLUTELY ADORED the originality of the story, your Cedar Cove book series and more but I will try very hard and focus on the book I am meant to be reviewing. 🙂

 

More than anything I want to say thank you for writing this book. As a child of divorce, I am not going to lie, the topic made me VERY nervous to read it. My parents break up was a bit more similar to Leanne and Sean’s than Nichole and Jake’s. While my dad did not cheat on my mom with other women, he did cheat on her with “the bottle”. On top of that he was constantly putting her down and killing the bright spirit that is my mom. Leanne’s struggles hit very close to home for me because I remember being a spectator of that kind of abuse day after day.

 

I have not been in a relationship yet myself, so I realize I cannot understand what it is like to spend 18 years of your life with someone and create 5 children with that person to have them give up on you. I remember begging my mom to stop trying. To leave him. To realize she was worth more. That we were worth more than what he made us feel like. I couldn’t understand her struggle and I think a small part of me resented her for that. Something I never wanted to admit to myself or to her. Reading over Leanne and Nichole’s struggles helped give me an unbiased insight into what my mom might have been feeling.

 

I don’t really like to talk about this too much because I am afraid people will tease me but because of my past I have become deeply terrified of men. I was told by the one person a girl is supposed to trust time and time again that I would never be pleasing to any man. Too fat, too insecure, too nerdy, too attached to my family, you name it-he said it. So I hide behind this shell of insecurity and self-pity as a defense mechanism to keep from getting hurt. I try and be bright and bubbly on the outside but I clam up the minute I feel too comfortable around a guy. There have been a few times I let myself become vulnerable and led to disastrous results (one told me to lose 30 pounds and he’d think about it, one went for the younger prettier girl, etc). I had slowly started to retreat back into that shell when your book was placed in my box at work.

 

Your book has allowed me to heal in a way that I didn’t even realize I needed. I know that my journey to love my self and to find love in another will still be a long haul but you have given me hope. That is what I love most about your books. Yes, there are the romantic moments and the “meet cutes” but at the end of the day, your stories, characters, situations, are REAL. Real people, real emotions, real faith.
Again, I cannot thank you enough for this book. For Leanne, Nichole, Nikolai, and Rocco. This book was absolutely fantastic, moving, beautiful and healing (for me anyways).

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the bottom of my heart.
-A little less broken Kathryn

Reflections

Hello all

(obligatory my life has been busy etc etc etc post here)

Now that we have that out of the way, I’ve been thinking on something recently.

Some incredibly happy news in my family has caused me to reflect back on my childhood a bit and think about my older “sisters”.

They shaped my life and the way I view and treat my siblings more than they will ever relaize.

My sisters had a rocky (at best) relationship with our dad. Now, admitedly, I do not know what their childhood was like and they sure do not know what mine was like so I will say that before we go further.

My sisters were a fairly big precense in my life during my very early years. I was a little baby born right when they were at the tween age of being obsessed with babies. My mom, the KINDEST heart in the universe, wanted so badly for us to be raised as siblings. She did not see “halves” she loves everyone no matter what.

However, my newness did not last forever. For reasons I don’t know (because I was 0-4 during this time) they drifted apart from us and my dad. I heard later that it was because my dad was demanding/mean/whatever else. At the time, he was a fairly good dad. He had his moments, FOR SURE, but overall ok.

Then, my sister got pregnant at 16. No parent in their right mind is going to be like ” YAY! A BABY! WOOOO!” to their 16 year old child so I can’t fault him for not doing cartwheels about this. At 7, I didn’t know what being an aunt was like. It terrified me to be honest but I was excited for a baby!

I did get to see my niece. About the same about of time I got to see my sister, once a year. For about 2 years or so. Then I didn’t see her until my next niece was born. Then not again until 5 or more years later when my oldest sister was in an accident and suddenly realized she wanted a relationship with ALL of her siblings.

The next time after that? 2 years ago. I think I have seen my nieces a total of 5 or 6 times in their entire life.

I know that as a parent, time is not your own. I watched my mom always scramble to keep things together, get people places in time, you name it. However I know that is not strictly the case with my sisters. I was punished and kept from my sisters and my nieces for a very long time because of their relationship with my dad.

So, what this post comes down to is this: I love my siblings. Kari, Kimmy, Tommy and Juli (and now Zack and Aaron) are the best things that happened in my life. I was lost and alone and they gave me guidance and a purpose without even knowing it. My sisters and their lack of interest in me left a cut in my life that I didn’t know how to heal so I filled it with loving my full biological siblings as much as I could. (Sometimes too much) I don’t ever want there to be a shadow of a doubt how much I love them and that I wouldn’t drop everything to help them. I never EVER want them to feel the hurt and abandonment I went through as a kid. Ultimately, my sisters looked out for themsleves and would occasionally grace me with a phone call or a gift. No one should have to live that life. To have that foundation ripped out from under you is one of the worst feelings in the world.

What my whole post is about is this: I never want my siblings to feel that they need to chose a relationship with my dad or a relationship with me. This is not going to be easy for me and something that I will probably always work on but I never want there to be split birthday parties or something like that. I couldn’t handle knowing my feelings towards my dad kept me out of my future nieces and nephews lives. I am a bigger person than previous examples set for me. I will not let this beat me.

This in no way means I am ready for a father/daughter relationship with my dad though. I don’t believe I ever will be. What I will be though, is civil. Not in a condesending way. Not in a “I’m better than you” way. A genuine “this life means a lot to everyone in this family and is more important than past irresponsibilites” way. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Something I need to remember in my everyday life.

I’ve spent my life trying to NOT follow in the footsteps of my older sisters and I am not going to start now.

Anyways, I hope wherever you are in the world, you are having a great day.

Lots of love, Me

(except for the fact that they will NOT be invited to my wedding. How does that feel sis?! Couldn’t find room for 3 extra people?! Bull. Sorry. Still a sore topic.)