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Letters to My Daughters Hardcover – March 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; illustrated edition edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743256085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743256087
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,744,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mary Matalin, the media savvy Republican strategist for two Bushes and one Cheney, switches to mama bear mode in a series of letters intended as a legacy for her two preteen daughters. Her advice reflects on formative experiences--losing her mother at age 26, working in the White House, marrying a soul mate from another political planet (high profile Democrat James Carville), and surviving Hurricane Isabel. Each letter's theme is reflected in her greeting. For example, "Dear hormone handmaidens" gives equal time to menses and menopause," Dear lovelies" focuses on how not to become a dieter or fashion victim and "Dear unfortunate carriers of the Matalin DNA," acknowledges anxiety (hers and theirs). Matalin is at her best when translating family or political lessons in her own terms including her mother's quiet faith, her brother Stevie's gallant response to his bicycle accident and the climate of loyalty in Bush's White House. Her love for her daughters is wonderfully ferocious and funny--full of mom sound bites. After promising not to spy or pry she warns: "But from a distance, I'll be keeping track of you like a rat on a cheeto."

Matalin's engaging and wise counsel alternates with advice flawed by her insistence on gender typecasting and the stale idea that "what defines us is ungettable by the other sex." This problem is magnified by the grating coarseness of her view of men. When Matalin tells her daughters, "Boys would screw a snake if it would lay still long enough," readers may wonder whether she intended these letters as keepsake for her daughters--or as a best seller for a wider audience. --Barbara Mackoff

From Publishers Weekly

"Don't ever feel like you have to choose between Daddy and me or, more importantly take up any political opinion out of peer pressure or because it's trendy. Think for yourself," writes outspoken Republican political strategist and media personality Matalin in one of a series of letters containing life lessons for her two young daughters. Daddy is the equally outspoken Democratic political strategist James Carville, whom Matalin married in 1993. Their daughters are now preteens, but Matalin's advice covers all stages in a woman's life. Each letter is centered on a theme, some more serious than others: marriage and childbirth; career and civic duty; mall shopping and bad hair days, among others. "The time and money you'll spend on your hair will exceed the GNP of Liechtenstein," she predicts. Carville's opinions are here, too-the letter about loyalty has his explanation on why he stuck with Bill Clinton in the wake of the Lewinsky affair. "[T]ell my girls that their daddy had a friend. And, his friend did a bad thing. And what you do when you have a friend is you forgive them. And that's what I did." Most of the advice is loving, humorous and generally open-ended. But Matalin draws the line at casual sex. She warns, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" echoing the advice her own mother gave her. This is not a parenting manual, nor does it contain any earth-shattering political or family revelations. But Matalin's engaging, sensible tone will appeal to many moms and daughters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend it for anyone with children.
Debbie Farmer,author: Don'tPutLipstickontheCat!
Helps you look at the balance of challenging and pushing and having high expectations, while still maintaining love and forgiveness and tenderness in your parenting.
J. Kennel
After I read and enjoyed this book ,I purchased the cd for my daughter and granddaughter to share.
Eileen I. Kane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine book as far as it goes. As a parent who knows that there are no easy answers, I appreciate the fact that she doesn't give a toolkit or a formula for childraising or growing up. But there is a book out there with a surprisingly parallel title, Letters to My Son, by Kent Nerburn, that is a truly brilliant work that deserves to be read along side this or any other parenting book. I have daughters as well as a son. I would give both these books to my children of both genders. Don't be seduced by Matalin's high profile. There are other authors out there who have as much to say. Give Matalin her due; she's done a good job. But if you want more wisdom and less psychology, get Nerburn's book as well.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Rhoades VINE VOICE on July 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This audio book was not something I would have picked out myself. It was sent to me by a girlfriend so I took the time to listen. I have heard my husband talk about this "politically opposite" husband and wife team many times and admired their ability to make a life together when they work on such opposite sides of the political fence.

Listening to this compilation of thoughts and desires from Mary Matalin to her daughters brought back things my mother try to pound into my head as a teenager. From the bittersweet happenings in a teenager's life to the everyday down-to-earth, get-it-right thoughts on life, these letters provides the basics every child needs to grown up right. They tell about the fears of being a mother and the hopes to "get it right" for your child. They provide insights into the fact that just because a mother is now over 21, she can and does remember what it was like to be 8 or 10 or 16.

Ms Matalin tells about her own family background and some of their hopes, dreams and family tragedies. She shares with the listener some of those wonderful growing up stories that happen in every family and the same stories that are told and retold and handed down through the generations. If you are looking for a good way to talk to your daughters - or sons for that matter - grab a copy of this audio book and go for it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A reader on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I do not have any children of my own, but plan to buy copies of this book for ALL my friends' daughters. Matalin's advice is humorous and humane. It is a compendium of her life lessons as well as maternal advice handed down through the generations in her family. Contrary to what some may expect from the author, the book is no doctrinaire tome espousing a particular political philosophy, but the advice of a warm and wise mother.

Matalin covers all topics of interest to young girls (and their moms) including friendship, academic issues, self esteem, dealing with mean girls and relating to boys. She is firm in her convictions without being overbearing or patronizing. She comes across empathic to teenage sentiments and concerns without advocating the "do whatever feels good" party line of many a parent who thinks themselves au courant. I have observed that teenagers (with their unsure sense of self) actually appreciate behavior guidelines from their parents but can easily become resentful when the strictures are too harsh. Admittedly, this is a delicate balance to achieve and Matalin does an admirable job of walking the tightrope.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "sleeptalker417" on May 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mary's book touched me deeply because like her, I lost my mother before I got married and had a child (a daughter). Like her, I read everything I could get my hands on, from Spock to Sears, but nothing filled the huge void created by my mother's untimely death at 52 (Matalin's died at 50). While her specific advice to her girls may not be earthshattering in its originality, it serves as a poignant reminder to all of us parents that we just might not be around to tell our kids what we'd want them to hear from us first. I will use this book as a jumping off point for letters to my own baby girl. In this busy world we live in, it's far too easy to think we'll get around to teaching our kids important life-lessons "when the time comes," but before we know it, they're grown and all-too-often, our busy lives have gotten in the way of those all-too-important conversations. If you have a daughter, of any age, read this book. A great mother's day gift too!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Coyne O'Keefe on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book immensely (I did the audio version) although I raised only sons (3) and had to wait many years to get a girl (my granddaughter.) Matalin does an admirable job of using humor and common sense in her individual "letters" to her daughters on such subjects as 10 or 15 minute segment on such subjects as "boys, bad hair days, PMS/menopause, politics", etc. I plan to share much of this information with my granddaughter. The audio book is ideal for listening to in the car where kids are a captive audience, right? You can listen to one of the "letters," then turn it off and use it to launch a discussion of that subject with your girl (or boy.) Throughout the letters, Matalin pretty much avoids taking a political stance one way or the other, and she was a lot funnier and more sensible than I had expected.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After I read and enjoyed this book ,I purchased the cd for my daughter and granddaughter to share.
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