Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage


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Dear Mom by Melody Carlson

Reviewed by Melissa J. Carswell

"...a book that moms need and teen girls are going to appreciate their moms reading – though they will never admit it. "

Melody Carson has turned her gift for writing in a slightly different direction than usual with her book, Dear Mom. Instead of a fiction book for teen girls, she has written to moms this time around in a book written from a teen girl’s perspective.

Her reason? In her words, “she has a teen girl stuck inside of her” who remembers well the angst of the teen years, while at the same time, empathizes with the frustration of moms everywhere who have to live with these teen daughters. Drawing from both of these perspectives, Melody writes a manual that moms are going to devour quickly and then go back and reference throughout their daughter’s teen years.

Dear Mom is written in letter form, as if a teen girl is writing to her mother. As is typical with teens, the paragraphs often contradict each other, such as, “Don’t pry and ask for details mom” and then stating a few paragraphs down, “Take an interest in me mom”. Despite this seeming contradiction, moms are not left confused as to which is the right thing to do, because the letters then go on to explain, “I know I’m contradicting myself mom. I don’t get me either.” Somehow, despite representing the ambivalence that is constantly going on in a teen girl’s mind, Melody always has tidbits of advice that each mom can cling to in the confusing journey of parenting adolescent girls – tidbits that are firm lifelines to hold on to despite the raging storms of change that can happen every five minutes with a teen girl and what she thinks she wants (or needs) from her mom.

Chapter titles include, “Things I don’t Like about Me”, “Things I Don’t Like About You”, “I Need You but You Can’t Make me Admit it”, “Why I Need Secrets and Privacy”, “Your Lectures Don’t Work and Here’s Why”, “I’m Watching You, Even When You’re Not Looking”, “We May have Similarities, but I am Not You”, and “I Need Rules but They Need to Make Sense”, to name just a few.

Each chapter is a letter, written from a teen girl’s perspective and ends with a list of either dos or don’ts for the mom. For example, one chapter ends with “Ten Ways to Humiliate Me” and another ends with, “Healthy Ways You Can Help Me Express Myself”. If a mom didn’t have time to read the entire book, the bullet lists at the end would be ample information to grasp and ponder.

A regular theme that appeared in many of the letters throughout the book was, “Be available and tell me you’re available, but don’t push me to confide. And if I do confide, don’t react. Listen!”

If moms are so far removed from their own teen years that they honestly can’t recall how difficult they were and wish with all their heart they could know what’s going on in the brain of their daughter, Dear Mom is the book they need to read. If only one “how –to parent” book was bought during the teen years, this is the book that needs to be purchased! Dear Mom is the insider’s manual to what it’s like to be a teen girl in today’s world. It is a book that moms need and teen girls are going to appreciate their moms reading – though they will never admit it.

Melissa J. CarswellMelissa J. Carswell: Melissa is a Board Certified Christian Counselor. However, due to the appearance of a little bundle of Miracle in the past year, the counseling practice is now on indefinite hold. Instead, Melissa has entered the world of freelance writing from home. She is currently one of the content writers for TotallyHer.com (to be launched in September of 2008). Melissa has a passion for mentoring teen girls and young women and does so whenever possible. Her heart longing, along with her husband, is to use her education and credentials someday to have a home full of abandoned, abused, and terminally ill childen. They are still waiting for God's hand to unfold that particular chapter of their lives. When Melissa isn't changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking meals, mentoring the afore-mentioned young women, tending to her garden, being her husband's biggest fan, and soaking in every cuddly moment with her daughter, she reads and she writes. It is not unusual to see 2-3 books laying around the house at any given time and the hard drive to her computer houses several partially-written manuscripts to the secret dreamed-of-published books Melissa hopes for in the future. You can check out A Weak Rose here.