Happy day 3 of the April Blogging Challenge! Today I’m going to be talking about the book Daughter: A Girl-to-Girl Conversation About What it Means to be One, by Deborah Isabel Miller.
I first heard about this project a year and a half ago, before it was even written, when my friend Janessa started telling me about her new editing job. She said that a girl named Deborah Miller was writing a book about father-daughter relationships, and she’d hired Janessa as a developmental editor.
Deborah Miller…the name rang a faint bell. Hadn’t I hung out with her once? I searched my memory. It must have been 2012. I was in my early 20s, and Deborah was still a teenager. Her family sings together, and they’d come to Oregon on tour. I heard that she liked to read books, so I asked her if she wanted to hang out and come to a bookstore with me.
Of course that was years ago, and we’d never kept in touch.
A few weeks after I’d first heard about Deborah and the book she was writing, Janessa asked me if I’d be willing to do some editing on the project as well. Deborah, Janessa, and I all met up at the trendy coffee shop in New Holland PA to talk about Deborah’s vision for the project, and what my editing role would be. And when I walked in, Deborah greeted me like an old friend, even though it had been years.
Turns out, she remembered me taking her to the bookstore. And apparently I’d given her some writing advice way back then. I had no memory of this, but I was delighted because it was just so full-circle…I gave writing advice, she remembered it, and then here we meet again six years later, and she’s writing a book that I’m going to do line edits for.
(Although I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due: I only really went through the manuscript once, whereas Janessa was working with Deborah very closely, draft after draft after draft.)
Obviously, since I’ve spent so many hours in these pages, and since I’m friends with the author, this review may be a little biased. But here’s what you can expect from the book Daughter: A Girl-to-Girl Conversation About What it Means to be One.
First, the tagline calls this book a “girl-to-girl conversation” because Deborah is in her mid-twenties, and only a few years older than her intended audience. In this way, the book isn’t condescending or preachy, but reads more like a conversation with a good friend. Even though Deborah has a beautiful relationship with her father, the father-daughter dynamic is not something she’s fully figured out, but rather something she’s still figuring out. She speaks from her own experience when she can, but she brings in a lot of other people’s experiences and expertise to round it out.
Second, the book is about father-daughter relationships, but there are two angles to this. First, of course, it’s about a daughter’s relationship with her human father. But second, it’s about her relationship with her heavenly father. These two themes are woven together throughout the book. They work hand-in hand. But the heavenly father relationship is, of course, prioritized.
However, while the book is absolutely coming from a Christian perspective, it’s not overtly coming from a Mennonite perspective. It’s meant to be applicable to any young woman of Christian faith.
The book is a mixture of stories and practical insight. But I’ll confess that sometimes as I read through it with a critical editor’s eye, I was so focused on switching up wording to make sentences flow well, adding paragraph breaks, and deleting repetition, that I’d miss the full impact of some of that insight. Sigh. Editor brain. Takes all the fun out of things.
Still, there was one passage in particular that broke through the editor brain and stopped me in my tracks with its insight. Here it is, from pages 143-144
In my relationships, I’m learning to give thanks for what is, instead of complaining about what isn’t. Affirm, bless, encourage, and give thanks in the areas where your dad is doing things well. Recognize the places he has taught you something valuable about God and life. For instance, my dad isn’t the best at initiating connection and conversation with me. He assumes that if I’m not asking to talk about something, everything is fine. Sometimes I’ve been hurt, feeling like I have to be the one to initiate connection between us.
I’ve had to learn to appreciate what my dad does do for connection. Even if my dad is a poor initiator, he is a great communicator when we do take time together. Instead of putting more pressure on him to initiate, it’s important for me to thank him and speak well of the way I can have healthy, understanding conversations with him.
Maybe your dad is a workaholic. That isn’t something to praise. But there’s a good chance that, even in this weakness, he has taught you attributes of diligence and hard work. You don’t have to mimic his obsession with work, but you can thank him and bless him for the positive life lessons he has taught in spite of his weakness.
Maybe your dad seems passive. This can make following his lead complicated. But there’s a good chance he has also shown you gentleness and patience through his quiet personality. Bless those attributes instead of criticizing the ways you wish he would lead.
I could see so many things like that in my own relationship with my dad–places where he had a weakness that had a corresponding strength. Like the way he never told me I was beautiful as I was growing up, because he didn’t want me to think that my worth came from my appearance. Honestly, I would have liked my father to call me beautiful. But I could criticize him for that, or I could choose to affirm and thank him for never making me feel like my worth was tied up in how I looked.
Now, I should add one caveat here: This book is helpful for girls whose fathers, while flawed, genuinely have good hearts and love their daughters. Obviously if your father is manipulative and abusive, or just straight-up absent, there’s no way to “fix it.” You can’t just ignore your father’s negative traits and try to find something positive to focus on. Deborah actually addresses this at the beginning of the book, but I just wanted to make a note of that here as well.
Anyway, if you want your very own copy of this delightful book, I’m giving one away! Just leave a comment either on this blog post or on my Facebook link. (If you leave a comment, I’ll assume you want to be entered, unless you explicitly state that you don’t want to be entered.)
The giveaway will close on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:59 pm PDT, and I’ll announce the winner on Thursday.
Finally, I’m sorry to say that this giveaway is only open to people with a USA mailing address. Sending books overseas is expensive, yo! However, if you live overseas I can always send it to a friend or family member for you, so long as they have a USA mailing address.
And if you’d like to buy a copy of Daughter for yourself, you can do so at this link.
I hope you’re having a relaxing quarantine. Remember to head over to Mom’s blog to see yesterday’s April Blogging Challenge post. She’ll post again on Monday, so stay tuned!